Now that you ask

Yesterday, right out of the blue, my inbox filled up and there were many tweets and things got really, really crazy, really really fast. It turns out that the USOC (United States Olympic Committee) has asked Ravelry to take down infringing patterns and stuff, and to change the name of the Ravelympics, because the US Congress has granted them the  exclusive commercial right to the trademarks.  I guess that might have gone over okay, but in the letter it said that they the USOC believes that  "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 could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that right then – that’s when the knitters went – to use a technical term, bash*t insane.

All of a sudden I was getting a lot of mail, and seeing a lot of tweets, and a lot of them were telling me that I was going to have to DO SOMETHING, and asking me what I thought.  Knitter feelings were hurt, and knitters don’t like that, and they don’t want to change the name, and the Ravelympics are exactly the same as the real Olympics and they’ve dedicated their lives to knitting, just like athletes and…. Well.  They hated it, and they want me to act, or write, or blog… and because I really try so hard to be balanced and fair most of the time, all I could think was "Oh, man.  You don’t want to hear what I have to say here" and with that, I had a glass of wine and hoped that it would be gone in the morning.
It’s not, and it might even be worse – and now there’s mad talk of boycotts and more mail, and desperate messages to me, and I don’t feel like I’m going to be allowed to ignore it,  and so here I am, thinking long and hard about this and trying to figure out what I’m going to say and why, and I hope you’ll all bear with me, and try to understand.  I’m going to hit some of the highlights from my mailbox. Please – if you’re not yet ready to have an open mind, if you’re still too mad – go knit something for a little while until you’re calmer and ready to consider some other perspectives, eh? 

They’re trying to stop the Ravelympics! They can’t do that!

Deep breaths my knitters.  Deep breaths. As my friend Denny would say, inhale pink, exhale blue.  Nobody said anything about canceling it, or changing it, or anything.  As a matter of fact it was very carefully stated that the worst case scenario – the very worst, terrible, horrible, very bad thing that can happen is that Ravelry would change the name.  I know that’s really upsetting to some people, but really, they can’t stop you from doing any sort of knitting thing – and they aren’t trying to. They just have a legal right to the name- and get to say how it’s used. Nobody’s stopping anything or trying to stop anything. Whatever plans you had? It’s the same.

We’re just having fun! Knitters are cool! We’re not hurting anybody! Why can’t we use the trademark! Don’t they have anything better to do than go after knitters?

This one is harder, but keep breathing. Here’s the thing. A while ago (I’m going to change details here so that I don’t single anyone out) Tina and I had the experience of discovering that some really nice knitters had decided to pay homage to the Sock Summit by having one of their own.  It was not a big event, it didn’t hurt us in the slightest that they wanted that to exist.  It was a super fun idea, and we would have loved for them to go forward with it – because it didn’t compete with the real Sock Summit in any meaningful way, and they were different enough that any thinking knitter would never have been confused. You could have knocked us over with a feather when our lawyer told us that we had no choice but to ask these nice knitters to use another name for their event. It turns out that under the law, if you don’t defend your trademark every time, you lose the right to defend it at all.  So if we’d let those nice knitters use the name, we would have sort of legally said "we don’t mind" and that would have worked against us if (and I’m just conjecturing here) a big company, like Vogue or Interweave decided to host a huge Sock Summit of their own, we would have no way to keep them from doing that. Crazy, right? That you can’t just decide based on what’s really significant or harmful?  It probably doesn’t hurt the USOC to have Ravelry using the name, and knitters are just having fun, and it is a really good time, and it does seem silly – but it’s also legally necessary, otherwise Apple can put out an Olympic branded Ipad, make a gajillion dollars off of their trademark and it would be hard to stop them. It’s not that the USOC are being dicks.  It’s that the law is stupidly inflexible- and that’s the way the world works. The USOC isn’t "beating up on Ravelry".  It’s defending it’s legal trademark.

(I’ve had a bunch of emails from people asking why the USOC didn’t beat up on me when I did the Knitting Olympics all those years ago… and I have a couple of things.  First, I’m Canadian. It wouldn’t be the USOC that came for me. It would be the COC – and they didn’t.  I was as careful about the rules as I could possibly be. It turns out that because mine was tiny (a few thousand compared to a few million on Ravelry, and because mine wasn’t hosted on a business site- especially way back then. (My enterprise cost money, not made it, and I have no advertisers, then or now.) I was extraordinarily careful about their logo (no merchandise or tee shirts or pins  – and had no events. Just people watching and knitting.  It’s important to note that they have the exclusive commercial rights. I wasn’t commercial enough for them.)

Oh SURE. The USOC can use the Olympic stuff to make money and that’s cool, but Ravelry can’t even use it for fun! I’m so sick of these corporations that are all about profit!  Don’t they have something more important to do?

This one is even harder.  The USOC has the exclusive commercial right to use some particular trademarked words and images. That means that they are the only ones allowed to make money with those words and images. If they let other people use them to make money without charging them money, then they make less  money.  Yup, I know what you’re about to say.  Ravelry isn’t using them to make money. 

You sure?  I mean, I know Jess and Casey, and they’re pretty smart cookies, and I think that they would be the first ones to explain to you that Ravelry is a for profit business that employs four people.  It exists to be fun and useful for us, and to make money for them. This is a good, smart thing.  Jobs and entrepreneurship are great and noble.  Employing people is noble.  Ravelry is not a charity. (Just keep breathing.)  Ravelry primarily makes its money from advertising dollars and pattern sales.  The more people visit Ravelry, the more patterns they sell, and the more their advertising is worth.  Therefore, Ravelry hosting a big fun thing that attracts lots of knitters is a commercial use.

As for the USOC – do you guys know what they do? I mean, other than ruin things for knitters furthering the ideal of the Olympics within the US?  They make it possible for American Athletes to go to the Olympics and maybe win your country some gold medals.

From their website: "The USOC also supports U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes on and off the field of play through programming such as direct athlete funding, health insurance, tuition grants, media and marketing opportunities, career services and performance-based monetary rewards. In addition, the Olympic Training Center facilities provide athletes with performance services, including sports medicine; strength and conditioning; psychology, physiology and nutrition assis
tance; and performance technology."

The USOC doesn’t have federal funding, and if you don’t want to fund them with your taxes, but you still want American athletes to excel and be among the best in the world, then this committee needs a way to make cash.  Licensing their trademark is how they do it.

Help me spread the word Steph! We should all boycott the USOC, and the Olympics because I don’t want them to profit from their crappy litigious behaviour.  I won’t be watching now! Just wait until the athletes find out about this!

Really?  Now I need to take a deep breath.  Let’s let go of the trademark thing.  They had to do it, and you still get to do exactly what you wanted, just somebody else got the name first. . This is like trying to sign up for Ravelry as YarnMama and discovering that you’ll have to be YarnMama23 or YarnMamma.  You’ll still have exactly the same experience, once you get over the shock.   Now, the boycott.  Keeping in mind what the USOC does with its money, are you sure that the athletes would be enraged? Considering that the only thing the USOC can sell is its trademarks, and that the USOC makes it possible for a lot of American athletes to go to the Olympics, are you sure they would be on your side with this one?  Besides, boycotting the Olympics because knitters aren’t getting to call their event what they want to?  If I was an Olympian, and I’d put in the work and effort that it took to get there, and that was the reason that my fellow citizens had decided not to give any kind of a crap about my effort… maybe I’m alone in this, but I think I’d be pissed – and not at the USOC.

They’re saying that Knitting denigrates the Olympics! They’re harshing on Knitting, and I’m a knitter and that means they’re denigrating me! They’re saying that my Olympic effort isn’t the same as an athlete’s Olympic effort and that’s not fair because they don’t get how much I care about knitting and how hard it is, and how much skill it takes and …. NOBODY GETS TO PUT KNITTING IN THE CORNER.

This is the really hard one, isn’t it? This one is hard for me too. The translation for that  stream of consciousness is "My feelings are hurt" and I admit to the sting.  That language might have been careless,  (and they’ve apologized)  and it’s a shame that it wasn’t as polite or absolutely sensitive as it could have been.    I’d like you to remember that letter wasn’t addressed to you,  but was one  enterprise writing to another, and usually there’s not a lot of crying about feelings in business stuff, so maybe they weren’t thinking a lot about knitter reaction when they wrote it.   I had to really slow down and read carefully to get over it, and I had to get real about what knitting actually is, and that was hard, because knitting isn’t just important to me, it defines a lot of my life, and that makes it feel Olympian. 

What the USOC actually said, was absolutely not that Knitting denigrates the Olympics – or that knitting ruining the Olympics, or that they hate and disrespect us. They said (and I know it’s a little stodgy) that using the same word – the word they own,  for "a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among others" and for a competition where things are very, very different, denigrates the latter.  What they mean is that your contest isn’t Olympic.  Our is, because this is what Olympic means, and we own the word.

That’s hard to hear, but you know what? If someone came along and wanted to say that something I thought was way less work than knitting was the same as knitting, I’d feel a little denigrated too.  Like, what if you knew someone who ate kleenex – but they’d worked their whole life at getting good at it and they felt a commitment to it in their life.  Wouldn’t you be a little pissed if they suggested that they had a skill that was the same as knitting? Wouldn’t you be a little annoyed if they wanted to be a textile artist too? I mean, kleenex is a textile, and they are transforming it… right?

Being a knitter is very, very wonderful, and I happen to think that it’s important, and really transformational in a lot of people’s lives, and that a lot of people (myself included) have made a really significant commitment to it’s importance in their life – a commitment that might feel a lot like being an elite athlete, but we’re not.  Let me say that again really carefully. 
We are not like elite athletes.  We are really great, but we are not the same as they are. 
They are athletes.  We are artists.  We take materials and transform them into beautiful, useful items, and the world would be nowhere without that contribution from textile artists, and I mean that literally.  Some of us are making the goal of our lives the highest possible expression of this art form. (Not many though.  A lot of us are just really expertly executing ideas other people had, and are more concerned with doing that right and well.  We’re still very clever though.)
We are not, however, spending our whole lives trying to be not just someone who can run 100 metres, but trying to be someone who can run 100 meters better than every single other person on earth – trying to put more sweat and training and work into that than anyone else ever has in the whole world, while knowing the whole time that you’ve only got a limited time to do that before you’re too old (and too old is anywhere from 16 to 40, in the Olympics) and where are you getting the funding from anyway and man – I really hope that you don’t get hurt this week, because your next chance to meet your goal is in FOUR YEARS.

Us?  We’re artists. We have our whole lives to get good at it, and we can be the best at it anytime, not just once every four years and sure, we get repetitive strain injuries sometimes (some of us) but all Olympic athletes suffer, and damn, have you seen them? Have you seen what they can do? There are millions of knitters.  Millions and millions and you know what? Just about all of us will learn to knit really, really well.  Millions of us.  Them? There’s just a few people on earth who can do what they do.  Just a few, and I’m not one of them, and I can’t tell you how inspiring that is, and even though the Ravelympics are all in fun, and I sort of feel bad that the USOC might have used the wrong words to explain it…

We’re not like them.  Knitting something – no matter how amazing the something,  isn’t the same as competing in the Olympics – and while they were clumsy with that point?  I understand.

Those hurt feelings are real.  It’s hard not to confuse that with actual injury, but at what point when we’re all complaining, emailing, tweeting, blogging, phoning, posting… at what point do we start to look like we’re saying "We don’t want to play by the rules.  We’re knitters, and there’s enough of us that if we don’t get our way, or if you hurt our feelings or don’t talk to us the way we like it – we might get ugly."   It makes me wonder about stuff.  No matter what this ends up being called, or no matter how it goes down, in the end you’re still cool and smart, and non-knitters still don’t totally get why, and in my heart I know you’re an artist, not an athlete, and I know this one really stung, but let’s maybe think about putting down the pitchforks, stop sending nasty mail, stop the name calling and showing them what we’re really made of.

Peace out Knitters. Stay Classy.

Please be civil in the comments. I know you’ve got it in you.  

833 thoughts on “Now that you ask

  1. People were right to ask your opinions. Leave it to knitter’s to get their skeins all in knots and their panties along with.
    Some of those ladies have a whole lot of knitting to do before then are able to see the variegation of the situation.
    I hope they can see the graft at the end of the sleeve ;D

  2. I love these commentroversies, if only to see how you will remind us of reality.

  3. “that’s when the knitters went – to use a technical term, bash*t insane.”
    Yup, that’s pretty much what happened.

  4. Beautifully said. The big problem I had was the “denigration” bit in the letter. I’m glad they apologized, and it seems they have used this same boilerplate in other letters. Here’s hoping they will be more respectful in defending their trademark in the future.

  5. Thanks for the words of wisdom! There’s been so much anger and vitriol and it just feels like perhaps there’s a better way to direct that energy.

  6. Nicely done. I’m still chuckling over the “Breathe in pink, exhale blue.”. Where I work one of my peers, (and ex Army Ranger), stands in front of me when my red hair is beginning to flame and says, “Breathe in, I’m a flower, exhale and I’m a butterfly”. I have no idea what the hell that means, but I usually gain control of my temper, senses, flapping mouth and just grin.
    Thanks Steph for giving me the moment between the inhale and the flaming exhale. Grin. Now, back to the Tab and rum.

  7. Thank you for researching this and explaining this so well. You might not be an Olympic athlete but you are a champion.

  8. Thank you for the words of wisdom and levity. I feel the same but would have never had been able to say it so eloquently. I too am a knitter, I even do some of my own designs but agree with you on the principle of the difference between knitters and olympians. At one point in my life I was a marathoner, and know the difference between my craft and physical past time though they both feel and are monumental at times in ones life. Again, thanks, and sorry or the ill written iphone typed agreement.
    Wish I were classy!
    Q.

  9. I’ve been out of the knitblog community for years although I still follow some folks on twitter. I can’t believe that people are making a big deal about this. Get a life.
    I know an actual two-time Olympian. And his wife. And frankly, the idea that knitting is an Olympic effort is a joke compared to this man’s (and his family’s) commitment to a singular goal and sacrifice to make that happen.
    People listen to you. So thanks for using your words to try to talk some sense into people. Good grief!
    People need to step away from the computer and their indignation and go do some knitting.

  10. Thank you-we did need a voice of reason to speak up. And I do hope this whole exercise at least taught the USOC to have some respect. It’s ironic that they use the terms “denigrate” and “disrespectful” in their boilerplate C&D letter, yet have no trouble accepting money to license Team USA Pampers. Seriously. At the very least it’s been thought-provoking!

  11. Amen. As an attorney, I certainly understand the trademark issue at stake and agree that they had to defend the mark. Designers certainly should applaud this stance as well. I think the law clerks unfortunate comparison is what draws so much ire. I just hope it is a teachable moment for him in always considering the multiple audiences for any communication (and that he is not one to be smug about it when he returns to law school in the fall).

  12. Well done, Stephanie. We can all support knitting, and Ravelry and the Olympics (all at once, even!) and the world will be better for it.
    Thank you for reasonable comments and a level-headed approach to this issue. We still have a long way to go to bringing knitting the respect it deserves, but we’ll get there someday. An organization I work for recently had a golf tournament as a fundraiser. I mused (only half joking) “I wish we could have a knitting competition instead…” Maybe someday that will happen! In the meantime, let’s all relax and appreciate what we do have.

  13. Well said, in every way.
    p.s. I was thinking I should explain the legal thing, being a knitting lawyer and all, so thank you for doing it and even better than I probably would have!

  14. Yes, this. All of this. This is what I tried to say in the Ravelry thread (though in my usual hamfisted and ineloquent way) and I got people arguing that NO, it’s TOTALLY THE SAME, that knitting a personal challenge and running faster than anyone else in the whole world is TOTALLY THE SAME and they train as hard as anyone else. At that point I decided everyone was insane.
    Thank you for being sane, and saying what I could without even one f-bomb.

  15. Thanks, Stephanie.
    Class is exactly what is needed here.
    And pride. These athelets are amazing, no matter
    from what country they come. They are the best in the world at what they do & should be celebrated. (and no one parties better than fiber people!!)

  16. Ever notice how it sometimes takes a Canadian to calm down all of us south of that border?
    Well done, Stephanie, and thanks.

  17. Exactly the right response to the situation, well reasoned and great examples. I appreciate your efforts to bring a dose a reality to the mania. The effort is the same, only the name will be changed.

  18. So sad, for ravelry and fellow knitters. But it is just a name, a lot of women who get married change their names. A lot keep them it’s all okay. We can keep knitting and in groups. It’s not like they went after our stashes. Thanks Steph. Ps I just got done reading your blog from the start, I have so many new projects to start.

  19. We can always count on your for perspective, Steph. Now, let’s get on with deciding what to re-name our own fun competition.

  20. I accept the “amended” apology. However (and it’s a big “however”), I don’t believe that it would ever have come about without the uproar. The only reason any apology was issued as to the wording of the C&D (and they’ve used that “degenerate” thing on other companies/events, too) is because they be-latedly realized they had made an epic social media FAIL.
    For me, I was always fine if they wanted us to change the name. I’m a believer in copyright/trademark, so I have no problem with their request to remove patterns that infringe on their trademark. I don’t equate my yarncraft with Olympic athleticism. I thought the whole point of the Ravelry games was to encourage interest & support for the games while we did our thing – and in a world where so many people don’t even watch the games anymore (at least, not like when I was a kid & you watched all of it because it was nearly the only thing on & was made into a huge deal), one would think that the USOC would love something that encouraged viewership without costing them money.

  21. I guess you could look at it as the power of knitters. If we were a small organization the USOC would have never heard of the Ravelympics. It would have remained anonymous forever if we weren’t 2 million strong. Once again, without even realizing it, we’ve changed some of history forever. We dropped a leaf in the river and that little shift of current changed things downstream.
    Should we get upset over changing the name? Well, it was cool to say ‘Ravelympics’, but something equally cool will come up.
    It was a bit insulting to hear that we do not work on an olympic caliber. Obviously they’ve never seen a knitter the week before Christmas trying desperately to get two hats and a pair of socks knit before Christmas. But that’s just my opinion.

  22. Thank you. I’m still sad, because what hurt most about this whole thing wasn’t the insult or the fact of copyright, it was the reminder that everything s increasingly “owned” in he modern world. I feel like we have been playing in a beautiful field somewhere, and a big man just came along and yelled at us because we can’t play there, it’s HIS field. Okay, I get it, but I’m still sad.

  23. Thank you for this. The tone of the original letter bothered me but the bring on the pitchforks, especially the taking it out on the poor guy who’s job it was to sign his name to that letter, bothered me more.

  24. As the mother of a Canadian Olympic rower and a past participant in the Ravelympics and your Knitting Olympics, I laud your thoughtful responses to knitters’ outrage.

  25. Excellent, Stephanie! You put the situation into perspective. I hope all knitters will rise above their hurt feelings and will show that they are loving, caring people by supporting the Olympians this summer.

  26. Thank you. This was very well said. I hope that all of your readers pass this along. While many have their feelings hurt, the letter wasn’t really our business. Trademarks and copyrights are a big deal. We wouldnn’t like it if someone else stole our “patterns, ideas ect” and sent them out.

  27. Kudos to you for putting everything so clearly. Personally, I feel a lot better now. As always, you are the voice of reason in an insane world. Thanks, and Knit on!

  28. Thanks for urging us to take the high road.
    I wonder if the USOC had any idea how big Ravelry is or how many knitters there are in the world before they wrote their letter.

  29. I agree with every word you wrote, and you wrote very well – rationally, clearly, passionately, and persuasively. You put this better than perhaps any other single person on this earth could have. Thank-you for taking the time to think this through and to communicate this post.

  30. Thank you for saying everything that was in my mind that I couldn’t get out- and then some. Awesome. Could not agree with you more.

  31. I think what’s aggravating to so many is that this has only served to show us that Ravelympics is waaaay more in the spirit of what the original Olympics were than what we have had for the past 20 or so years. Non-professional, my ass. As far owning the very word Olympic, I guess the US Congress will just have to rename those mountains in Washington?

  32. This is why I read your blog. In addition to being wicked funny, you remind us all not to take ourselves too seriously and be nice.

  33. Very well put. And I just have one thing to say to the USOC about their word choices in the letter… “that’s not how you do it”. 🙂

  34. Once again you put my feelings into words far, far better than I ever could. The only thing I would add is this:
    The person that wrote and sent the letter is, what appears to be, a summer intern. It is a young man who is in law school and, like most law school students, full of fire and enthusiasm for defending their clients (in this case the USOC).
    After years of working with lawyers, I can practically hear the conversation now.
    Supervising Atty (SA): There’s this event called the “Ravelympics”? Check it out. If they’re doing anything Olympic-like or it looks like they’re doing anything related to the Olympics, send out a C&D. There’s a form in the computer. Punch it up a little to make it look less formlike and send it out.
    Law Clerk/Summer Intern (LC/SI): Sure thing, SA! Do you want to see a draft before I send it?
    SA: No, I’ve got cases X, Y, and Z and I’m due in court tomorrow on G. It’s a simple letter, just send it.
    LC/SI: Sure thing!
    Then he does his best to punch it up to make sure those Ravelympics people know they can’t just use the Olympics willy-nilly, and these Olympians are HEROES. They need to be protected while they serve the country! And he sends it. Without thought. And the SA doesn’t think anything of it, because it’s a simple C&D letter.
    And then the knitters go, to quote you, Stephanie, bash*t insane.
    Do you want to know what I think the worst thing in this whole situation is?
    That Law Clerk/Summer Intern, who it looks like moved to Colorado Springs on a law student budget, probably lost his job. Now all the internships are taken by this point, he won’t get any credit for interning, and when future employers google his name, this foolish error will follow him forever.
    All because he probably just got overambitious and someone didn’t read the draft first.

  35. Thank you so much for your perspective. It was very helpful to me, and I hope, to all knitters everywhere. We are great, we are creative, and we are tolerant and forgiving.

  36. I think I’d have an easier time with this if entities like, say, Pampers wasn’t an official sponsor. That’s right, literally reliving oneself on the official logos of the Games is totally acceptable as long as enough cash has exchanged hands.

  37. Was Ravelry making money off of this? I don’t think so. It seems petty of the Olympic Committee to have this attitude, since Ravlry’s even encouraged knitters to watch the Olympics as they were televised. Besides, the US is just one country that participates in the Olympics. Why do they ‘own’ the word? That makes no sense. Nevertheless, it looks as though either they have ruined a good time for a lot of people, or Ravelry needs to change the name of their event.
    Too bad.

  38. Bravi! I’d stand up and applaud you but I’d would get some strange looks around the office. You are an excellent voice of reason and a (hopefully) calming influence amongst us knitters. Personally, I plan on sitting back, yarn in hand, enjoying the Olympic games and cheering on the best athletes. And here is hoping all of the knitters with their worsted in a twist will use their energy for bringing about world peace so future Games will not be hampered with bombings and assinations.

  39. Too bad you even had to address this issue but I agree with every single word. Nicely done. I intend to stay classy.

  40. Thank you for posting this.
    I admit, I was a little upset about this whole thing – especially the “denigration” part – and their original apology did just anger me all the more. (The updated apology was enough to cool me down, though.)
    I’ll just be walking away now, I think. No matter what comes out of this, it doesn’t affect the fact that we’re awesome – that we have skills and also, apparently, enough voice to make a giant corporation like the USOC take notice and apologize. That really is something to be proud of, I think.
    …though, if Stephen Colbert does take up this story, I WILL be knitting him a pair of socks. 😉

  41. Bravo ma belle. I always love how you can talk a knitter down from the ledge!
    If you weren’t already so busy living your very full life, I’d strongly recommend you for an emergency responder position. And the fact that you can relate to the emotion of the incident but can somehow corral your feelings enough to look at the thing from another perspective….not many folks seem to have that ability/sensibility these days.
    Now, can you come and help resolve the tuition/Bill 78 issue here in Quebec? We have Montreal bagels and cheese curds….
    Cheers, Barbie O.

  42. Thanks for being a voice of reason, and for explaining the legalities involved. Hopefully your position in the knitting world will help bring some sanity back into the matter.

  43. Stephanie, I am now an even bigger fan of yours than I was before I read this post. Which I didn’t think was really possible. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Now everybody go eat a cookie, knit something and get over it all.

  44. Now that they have really said they were sorry for the wording of the letter, I do think it is time to move on to finding a new name for the Ravelympics. Hopefully the USOC has learned something from this experience and maybe changed how they word their form letters

  45. Thanks Stephanie. For taking the time and energy and good will to put this out there. You’re cool like that. ‘Zat’s one reason we love you.

  46. Clear, reasonable, calm, considered, and well-said. Thank you.
    I really, really agree. Changing the name is not a big deal, is a totally reasonable request, and should be done posthaste. Let’s respect athletes from all nations! 😀

  47. Too bad the USOC doesn’t spend their time and funding supporting their athletes. Instead they devote themselves to legal harassment while entire medal winning teams (anyone remember the short track team in 2010?) have to get private funding.
    So while medal winners like JR Celski have to rely on Stephen Colbert, they have the funds to pay lawyers who seek out everyone who is “denigrating” the Olympics by participating in a world wide celebration of the event in the spirit of challenge and comraderie.
    Great job guys!

  48. Well, Miss Stephanie: today you took me through the entire gamut of emotions within the few minutes it took to read your blog. I was not aware that the Olympic committee had addressed this issue at all, until I started to read. I was immediately incensed. Then as I read on, you reminded me of all the reasons why I shouldn’t take this as a personal affront. So I am, once again, in my happy place, and I thank you for that. You do have to enjoy watching the knitters flare up and scare the Olympic people. I think it says quite a bit that they apologiized at all. I doubt that they do that often.

  49. Well, Miss Stephanie: today you took me through the entire gamut of emotions within the few minutes it took to read your blog. I was not aware that the Olympic committee had addressed this issue at all, until I started to read. I was immediately incensed. Then as I read on, you reminded me of all the reasons why I shouldn’t take this as a personal affront. So I am, once again, in my happy place, and I thank you for that. You do have to enjoy watching the knitters flare up and scare the Olympic people. I think it says quite a bit that they apologiized at all. I doubt that they do that often.

  50. Thank you so much for putting into words pretty much everything I’ve been thinking since this whole thing started. (And, naturally, you said it waaaaay better than I could have!)
    I’m a knitter. I’m a GOOD knitter. I do amazing things with teeny needles and wispy yarn. But that doesn’t even BEGIN to compare with what Olympic athletes do. I mean, c’mon. My shawls vs. 10 hours a day ripping the skin off your hands on the uneven parallel bars or climbing the high dive and flinging yourself off over and over and over?? No contest. Not no way, not no how. I’m actually embarrassed by the mindless raging of knitters over this whole thing.

  51. I think the majority of hurt feelings wasn’t over the implication that knitting is an Olympian effort. We KNOW we aren’t Olympians. The insult was implying that our enthusiasm and moral support of the athletes, expressed as challenging ourselves in our own craft as we cheer on the games, was denigrating the Olympics and disrespecting the athletes. It was a demonstration of ignorance that the fiber arts community felt could not go uncorrected. In the USOC’s updated apology, I think they have come as close as they ever will to acknowledging their error.

  52. I’d like to add my thanks Stephanie. Very well said and sincerely meant. You truly are a voice of calm and reason in a crazy world. Knit on!

  53. I can understand the legal bits and can understand the request. I for one am still going to continue with the event, no matter what it’s called.
    I too felt a little stung at their words at the end. On reflection, I think my own irritation and upset feeling comes from having to explain my love of knitting to people time and time again, from having to explain that no, I’m not a granny and no I’m not “sad” (meaning pathetic here in the UK and no, I can’t knit you a jumper for £10 plus the cost of yarn.
    I’ve had those reactions from people when I tell them that I knit lately.
    I know the Olympic committee didn’t say that I was “sad” or “granny like”, but I drew that implication from their words – so I need to recognise that my own perspective is screwed up as a result of dealing with idiot members of the public (MOST of whom are fine and are generally lovely about knitting).
    Am I going to boycott the olympics? No. Am I going to support the hard work of the athletes? Yes, although I am British, so it’ll be Team GB for me (although I respect the hard work of any athlete!), Am I going to continue with the work I had planned for the Ravelympics (or whatever name they now use)? Yes.
    Thanks for your rational, thought provoking and most excellent post.

  54. I’m sorry, I love you very much Steph, but this is a little bit condescending. Athletes aren’t inherently “better” than anyone, they’ve simply made a choice to devote a lot of time and effort to doing something that they want to do, in order to achieve their personal goals and gain fame and glory. That choice isn’t better or worse than the choice to devote all your time to academia, or to raising a family, or to nurturing a circle of loving friends, or whatever it is that the rest of us have devoted the majority of our time to doing.
    It’s true, knitters don’t tend to make sacrifices for their crafts on the same scale. But I’m willing to bet that some of them would, if there was as much money/fame/sponsorships/etc on the line! The only reason such elite athletes exist is because our society values sports so much. It doesn’t mean sports are inherently better- they’re just more interesting to watch. Still, no one’s saying it’s exactly the same caliber of event-obviously it’s not- but that doesn’t mean that ours is insulting.
    As someone put it on Ravelry- it ain’t like either of our activities is going to be curing cancer or feeding the hungry.
    Steroids, McDonalds, cheating… those are the things that denigrate the Olympics. Having a parallel “competition” (sort of) featuring a perfectly positive and productive activity and a *play on the name* (seeing as Ravelry wasn’t using the name “Olympics”) isn’t denigrating anything.
    Most of us don’t really have a problem with them protecting their trademark (though I’m not sure that they own “ympic”, but who knows.) Though, the USOC do have a reputation for being litigious bullies- repeatedly attacking companies in Olympia/on the Olympic Peninsula (in WA) for using the word Olympic, of all the nonsense.
    As a side note… apparently knitting actually used to be an Olympic event, albiet for children. I can’t find the reference on Google at this point since I just get articles about this issue, but if it’s true, guess it’s not THAT unworthy.
    (Also worth noting: the wording in this letter was taken directly from another one sent to the Redneck Olympics- they just changed the name of the activities from “toilet seat horseshoes” and “bobbing for pigs feet” to the knitting events. Guess it’s equally disrespectful.)
    I am sorry that people felt the need to bombard you with letters- this isn’t your problem, not even your country 😛 I think people were curious about why it was okay for you to use Olympics, but I think it probably comes down to “Canada tends to be reasonable.”
    Your event may have been small and non-profit, but the USOC most likely would’ve been all over it anyway if it were here. (And I wonder if you’d feel differently if YOURS had been accused of being disrespectful?)

  55. How is it possible the USOC can go after the use of “Ravelympics”? They don’t own that as a trademark … the only have use of the Olympic name or symbol. Fine for them to go after crafters who are making things with the Olympic emblem and selling the pattern, because that is trademark violation. But Ravelry can use the name “Ravelympics” if they want since there’s no confusion that Ravelympics is the actual Olympics.
    Thanks for bring up the trademark jargon … so many people don’t get it.
    Sincerely, IP Law student

  56. Thank you for a well reasoned and clearly stated perspective. Like many others, I plan to watch a lot of cool sports that I don’t get to see very often, and do some knitting too, whatever you want to call it.

  57. Amen! Well said. These days people get hysterical about things before they even stop to think. You bothered to take the time to stop and think about it. Thank you.

  58. Good analysis of the issues. (I’m afraid my response to the outraged knitters would have been something like, “Grow up. Expend all that outrage on issues that really matter. Fight global warming, support a charity with your dollars, volunteer at a homeless shelter, etc.” ) Copyrights are there for a purpose. Just ask any knitter who has a pattern to be sold, a songwriter, an author. Think about how you would feel if you were asked to work without getting any compensation. The USOC is a “person” whose business is supporting Olympic athletes and their only product is the Olympic name/symbol.

  59. Once again, a rational reasoned response eminently well said! I so appreciate that in you.

  60. Thanks for being the voice of reason. As a knitter, I am not offended by the whole cluster-muck. I am alarmed by the outrage expressed on the behalf of the Ravelympics. Ugly.

  61. Thank you for being the voice of logic and reason. This was, as all your posts are, clear and logical. And this was absolutely what we needed.

  62. It is always a good thing to stay on the high road. Usually much less crowded!

  63. Thanks for Denny’s breathing lesson, the reasoned walk through the issues, and the guffaw (i.e. Kleenex eating textile artist).
    As I wrote over on Ravelry, we can call the event “Fred” & it will still be fun.

  64. Hi Steph!
    You’re so nice and polite and calming. I confess that it took me a while to get my mad face on. I mean, the name is trademaarked, and I wasn’t surprised that the USOC got all upset about it. I was in Odyssey of the Mind when they were being sued by USOC and forced to change their name. It was formerly known as a Olympics of the Mind. My first thought was “Okay, just change the name” and I started thinking of possible names. But then I read the letter.
    We are artists of varying degree and abilities. We are not athletes. I get that. What I didn’t like was the condescending attitude. A standard boilerplate C and D letter generally does not insult the community slash recipient. There’s a big difference between “Your name infringes on our copyright. Please change it.” and “Your name infringes on our copyright. Please change it. How could you even consider yourself and what you do comparable to us? You’re *just* a crafter. Your little competition cheapens ours. Your father stank of elderberries….”
    The USOC *has* a point. A very good point. We should change the name. Especially with all the copywrong wank we see on Rav all the time. Many of us (myself included) are not offended by the message. But the manner of delivery goes over like a lead baton in the 500 meter relay.
    So fiberdorks, let’s not go in with pitchforks and flaming torches. Lets be classy, keep a sense of humor and try not to behave like adults. Classy adults.

  65. You make it all clear. As an attorney, I hate the ‘I have to sue you’ ethic which is all too common today (car accidents, doctors’ mistakes…); however, if the Olympic Committee makes money by licensing its brand and that brand is found to have entered the public speech as a generic term (‘Escalator,’ if memory serves, was once a brand), then the Olympic committee will have no way to make money. Xerox and Kleenex waged great battles to have people refer to other iterations of their products as ‘photocopy machines’ and ‘facial tissues.’ I’m sorry the initial contact was perceived as nasty. Attorneys don’t all knit, alas, though I think the world would be way calmer if they did.

  66. Thank you – at last (if you can consider an ‘at last’ a mere 24 hours after the initial event) a voice of reason amidst the hysterical chaos.

  67. This is an excellent post. Very well thought out, very balanced, very fair.
    The really fascinating thing is it all began when you dropped this little comment in your blog ten years ago and thought knitting along with the games could be fun. I think this makes you the Knitting Olympics spiritual mother. Got anymore good ideas?

  68. ahh so rational and reasonable. I love it. Thanks for an awesome blog post that answers all the questions that people have.
    xx

  69. I absolutely understand about the trademark issue, and also about the point regarding commercial use. That was very clearly and nicely stated.
    I agree with Romi that the word “denigration” probably shouldn’t be in their form letter, and I’m glad they apologized for that one. It’s the one point that raised my hackles, and it did so because it seemed to me to imply that knitting along reduced the importance of the event rather than demonstrating support for it. Your reading does make sense though, and I think we should try to think that way.
    I should maybe note, though, that I’ve never participated in either your Knitting Olympics or in the Ravelympics, so I can’t really speak for how those knitters who did so feel.
    The only other point I’d add is that, well, I don’t really think it’s a situation worth getting all that worked up about. I want to hasten to add that, yes, knitting is worthwhile. It’s made my life a happier one, and I’m extraordinarily proud of each new skill I gain, and how it stretches my brain and boosts my feelings of self-worth to see what I’m capable of producing in tangible form.
    BUT. But. No one is trying to stop us knitting. They’ve apologized for the one point that wasn’t that well-stated. The worst-case scenario ain’t that bad. And so, in my view, being over-sensitive will probably do more bad than good by having a somewhat negative impact on our image as a community.
    Thanks for your post. I hope it will help cooler heads prevail.

  70. As of an hour ago, they posted Apology 1.5 on their FB page. It’s better but still has bugs.

  71. “There’s just a few people on earth who can do what they do . . . we are not the same as they are.” Perfect. 🙂

  72. Yeah. Try being ACTUALLY GREEK and see what happens. “Greek Life” = fraternities, sororities, hazing; not how I live my life. “Spartans” = Michigan State University mascot; not some of my family who come from Sparta.
    (True story: Someone last week saw my hat emblazoned with “Zakynthos” and asked about it. I said it was my mother’s island. He said, “Wow — your mom has her own island? You must be so rich!”)

  73. Well written, Stephanie, as always. :o)
    I am one knitter who took offense at the wording of the cease-and-desist letter. And took to twitter to voice my feelings.
    I vehemently disagree with many aspects of trademark law today, which I think has gone way too far in some instances. (Vancouver’s Olympia Pizza, anyone?). I think the notion that the word ‘Ravelympics’/the Ravelympics themselves pose real threats to the US Olympic Committee, the IOC, the Olympic movement as a whole, is pretty silly. Ravelry is, to be sure, a for-profit enterprise. But come on…does anyone really think Ravelry is taking money away from the Olympic Movement by allowing its members to have their own friendly (dare I say more friendly than the actual Olympics?) competition?
    That said, I appreciate the law is on the USOC’s side in this matter. For myself, (and, from what I’ve seen on Rav, Twitter, and Facebook, for the majority of knitters and crocheters), the name change isn’t the issue, and never was. It was the tone of the letter, and, yes, the use of the word ‘denigrate’.
    I would never dream to actually compare my knitting to the training of an Olympic athlete. I am confident that most knitters and crocheters wouldn’t. Our crafting is important, creative, and challenging, yes, but I agree with you, it is not the same thing as Olympic-level athletic training.
    The thing is, I very much doubt that many athletes would actually feel denigrated by the Ravelympics. I think if they saw what the Ravelympics (or, dear, Harlot, your Knitting Olympics, or any of the countless Olympics-inspired, trademark-infringing activities that countless women, men and children will participate in under the radar) was all about, they would recognize it for what it is — a fun event that coincides with the Olympic Games, celebrates the spirit of striving to achieve a goal.
    I, for one, accept the USOC’s amended apology. And I’m looking forward to participating in the Olymic-Games-inspired-Ravelry-event, whatever it is called.
    More than anything, I am sad that the true Olympic spirit has been dying for years, now, as the event becomes less and less about truly celebrating athletic achievement and the peoples of the world coming together in harmony, and more about money. But I digress…

  74. I understand where you are coming from, but I have to disagree on your final analysis.
    Yes, the USOC not only has the right, but duty to defend it’s trademark if it wants to keep it. Nobody I know is arguing that.
    It’s the idea that our pursuits aren’t worthwhile. That our efforts are less worthy. Perhaps they aren’t as camera worthy as breaking the world record on high jump, but that does not lessen the feeling of accomplishment and pride I get from finishing an amazing piece of knitting I wasn’t sure I could do.
    Remember when you ran out to show your neighbors your first piece of lace knitting? Remember how proud you were? How would you have felt if someone had said “Oh sure it looks nice, but it’s not exactly what I’d call an accomplishment. It’s just knitting.”
    That’s what these knitters are reacting to. The degeneration of their efforts as somehow unworthy of praise or pride.

  75. That glass of wine and breathing thing- genius! You explained this in a clear, concise and non-judgmental way. I need to learn to do that more often. As always, you rock!

  76. Well, it took this to get my first comment lol
    First of all, I agree wholeheartedly with your stance, Stephanie. I like to get my pitchfork on as much as the next person, but I have personally felt embarrassed by the vitriol that has been coming from many of my fellow Ravelers. I was planning on participating in the event on Ravelry before, but now I don’t think I will.
    Secondly, there were several independent companies that were specifically marketing yarn and other materials for the event, and they were paying advertising costs, so strictly speaking, Ravelry was profiting.
    Third, I have been appalled at the way people are reacting to this law clerk. When I was reading the forum boards, all I could think was, “Am I the only person who can remember a time when I said something without thinking?” This poor guy was doing his job and, yes, probably should have taken a bit more time to be sure that his wording was insulting, but the response has been ridiculous!
    I’m sure he wouldn’t want them now, but I kind of want to knit him a pair of socks or something to apologize for the overreaction.
    I truly hope this dies down now. This has not brought good attention to our knitting community.

  77. Thanks for being the voice of reason in all this. Personally, I understood from the beginning that they needed to defend their trademark. The parts of it that really irritated me was the denigration line, and the initial apology.
    To me at least, the denigration line and the tone of the letter read as “we stand for culture, education, tolerance, respect, world peace, and harmony. You guys just mess around with yarn.” Obviously the skills to become a knitter (even an expert knitter) and an Olympic-class athlete cannot be compared, but I read the C&D to mean that we crafters denigrate the *ideals* of the Olympics. I found this incredibly insulting and offensive.
    In addition, the initial apology just made me more angry, since it too was worded very poorly. The claim that the C&D was simple boilerplate was clearly false (it was obviously edited to some degree, as I doubt the USOC tells other organizations that their afghan marathons denigrate the Olympic spirit), and passing it off as such seemed an affront to my intelligence and that of the craft community.
    In addition, I thought the final sentence was poorly written, in bad taste, or both. You cannot apologize and ask for free stuff at the same time. I felt that that statement denigrated crafters by belittling the amount of effort we put into each crafted item.
    Finally, the tone of the apology was very much “We apologize for you being angry”, which is very different from “We apologize for what we said”, and read to me as a hint of gaslighting, especially as the majority of the crafting community is female.
    The second round of apology is much better, and I feel significantly calmer now. It’s sad to think how much of this could have been avoided with more careful language… It’s not what they said, but how they said it.

  78. I wrote contracts for the federal government for alot of years,I am not an attorney. The actual statute referenced by USOC Sec. 220506. Exclusive right to name, seals, emblems, and badges) limits their recourse of civil action to when the use of olympics or variants thereof cause confusion deliberately or accidently that suggests a connection with the USOC. I don’t believe the use would do so. It is common for corporations to interpret laws to their advantage and their interpretation is not always correct, enforcable, nor the way it has been previously interpreted by the courts. I have many times seen a corporation misrepresent their ability to take action as a scare tactic hoping the other party will back down. Which I suggest is what is happening now.
    “(3) the words described in subsection (a)(4) of this section, or any combination or simulation of those words tending to cause confusion or mistake, to deceive, or to falsely suggest a connection with the corporation or any Olympic, Paralympic, or Pan-American Games activity;
    or
    (4) any trademark, trade name, sign, symbol, or insignia falsely representing association with, or authorization by, the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee, the Pan-American Sports Organization, or the corporation.”

  79. Thank you for your summary of the situation and correct response. The second apology from the USOC is a good one that all knitters should accept. It is time to move on.

  80. Thank you for bringing the voice of reason to this issue. I’ve been avoiding Ravelry and Twitter because no one was saying what needed to be said. Thanks again for stepping up.

  81. Meh, I’m on the fence on this one, and I do agree with most of this post.
    I can totally understand the need to defend the copyright in order to keep it (as do most of the people commenting that I’ve seen so far. As a community we tend to be reasonably well versed, or at least well intentioned, in the area). However, copyright law does have allowances for things like parody and free comment. I think there’s a good argument for the ravelympics being a friendly parody, certainly the event titles are. It’s the same reason J.K. Rowling can’t move against the Barry Trotter books for infringing on the Harry Potter copyright.
    The USOC, the London 2012 people and probably countless other Olympic committees around the world, however, have been … problematic in their implementation of copyright protection. Including businesses on the Olympic Peninsula being told to change their names in similar letters. They’re known for being militant and agressive to an unreasonable degree, so it’s really hard to be sympathetic to their cause. That, as it turns out, this is actually their standard form letter, insults and all, illustrates how agressive and bullying they are.
    As for the denigrate part, I don’t agree with anybody who suggests that knitting a sweater is comparable with competing in the Olympics. However, denigrate suggest that the association with knitting somehow bringing the olympics into disrepute. It’s not like it’s an olympiad of extra marital affairs or puppy kicking. Basically, the USOC said that it didn’t want to be seen in public with knitting (or crochet, or spinning, or…). Yeah, I reserve the right to be insulted.

  82. Stephanie,
    Thanks AGAIN for being a calming voice of reason. I know it took you time out of a very busy schedule to research all of that and I appreciate all the effort. Be Classy! That’s the key!

  83. I agree with Alex. I don’t find sports and sportspeople any more noble or worthy of attention and billions of dollars of sponsorship than any other pasttime. At the amateur level there are, I’m sure, many good things about sports. At the Olympic level sports is about advertising $, drugs, overinflated national pride and “ooh look my opening ceremony is bigger than yours and it doesn’t matter if we bankrupt the country and evict lots of homeless people from the city because look how impressive we are.” Some might call that cynical – I call it realistic.
    Meanwhile, fibrecrafters around the world get on with clothing ourselves, our families and total strangers in need of help, in a spirit of fun and love and international community,with little recognition and a fair dose of jokes about grannies. I don’t think it’s any surprise that we got so worked up about the original letter. Trademarks? Fine. Ridiculous, but fine. Daring to suggest that the effort put in by sportspeople, some of whom are paid more than is reasonable, is somehow more noble than the efforts of the rest of us? Yeah, nah.
    I accept the SECOND attempt at an apology, but I will never accept that my attempts to better myself through my hobbies are less worthwhile than those of a football player, marathon runner or synchronised swimmer.

  84. Yeah, I had already decided I have better things to do than play along with the Rav game this year (whatever they decide to call it). And now I feel like doing something constructive, like maybe knit something for the nice young man who helps coach my daughter’s swim team and is in the US olympic trial finals in swimming next week (and is not named Phelps).

  85. What a lovely post! It helped me love the Olympics again and that’s just as well because they’re in my home country this year!
    By the way, have you ever thought of a sideline as a diplomat?

  86. Thank you for bringing some sanity to the situation. It’s not personal, it’s business, and as a previous posted commented, we could call it Gladys and it would still be fun!!! Knit on…..

  87. Thought of something else, thanks to AmarilloKnitter !
    I re-tweeted a couple of angry tweets sent to the author of the cease-and-desist letter, and have regretted it. While I think his words were poorly chosen, bombarding his personal account crossed a line. The official USOC account was far more appropriate recipient of vehement, yet respectful opinion.

  88. Thank ye Ma’am, for being such an excellent parent. Neatly done, today’s blog. Apologies for having asked it of you, but thanks!

  89. Thank you for your thoughtful, rational post! I actually just learned of the whole thing from NPR and after chuckling over some of the forum posts at on Ravelry where some people were clearly “bash*t insane” (because, really, when someone claims in all seriousness that she’s been training since 2009 for this knitting event, and equates that with being an Olympic athlete?) I came straight here, sure that if you had addressed this at all, yours would be the voice of reason. And it is! Thanks again!

  90. I don’t tend to comment on blog postings, but this was one of your most well thought out and delivered posts ever and points to the best and the worst of the knitting community. Let’s use those sharp needles for their intended use to bring beautiful art to the wearer and not against the world or each other.

  91. Wow. Had no idea this was even in the wind!
    Thanks for bringing it to my attention in a reasonable and well-explained manner, before I had a chance to get sucked into an argument. 🙂
    While I totally understand where you and the USOC are coming from, for me it comes down to two things: Ravelympics, while clearly “related” to the Olympics, seems to be a different-enough name to not be an infringement. Personally, I would complain about the sports-related categories if that were the case. The other thing is the “represent” part that – since you led the charge – has been an uphill battle in recognizing knitters as not just little old ladies in rocking chairs, and that knitting is a cool thing, and that knitters *are* an economic force as well. This kind of puts us back a step.
    But – you are right. The Olympic athletes do train very hard, and there are few who can do what they can do. Knitters work hard to become proficient, but ultimately millions of us can produce a well-knitted item.
    Thanks for putting a voice of reason out there.

  92. Well Done Steph, the voice of reason! You rule and thanks for your time and trouble to put a well thought out and knowledgeable lid on a hot situation.
    Keep knitting and *passes some wine* have another glass you deserve it.

  93. Because the Ravelympics “links” to the Olympics in numerous ways, it would probably not fare well in the courts. And the patterns cited used the rings (which is also forbidden by the IOC, so it is an international position).
    I attended the Atlanta 1996 Olympics, which were criticized intensely for being too commercial. However, those foreign tourists that approached me all wanted their picture taken in front of the Coca Cola bottle.
    I think that the law intern should be in charge of researching TNAA.org’s relationship with Major League Baseball for “Stitch N’Pitch” and Dale of Norway’s relationship with the IOC (which is more of what they are used to). This could be a win/win situation for both knitters and athletes…thinking yarn line in Olympic ring colors!!!
    While I greatly admire and respect Olympic athletes for their skill set, I do not think that building yourself into the best athlete in a particular category necessarily makes you a “demi-god”. We just don’t give full recognition to many of those other fields because “competition” is really hard (and subjective) in neurosurgery or poetry or nursing or fire-fighting.

  94. I think Lynda the Guppy makes a good point about the poor intern – and I really hope they don’t fire him, as they have used the terms ‘denigrate’ and ‘disrespect’ before, so those can’t be blamed on his enthusiasm. (It is in the letter to the redneck olympics. http://www.sunjournal.com/oxford-hills/story/1074430 )
    If anything, it took a bunch of knitters to point out to the USOC that legaleese or not, they need to polish their language to sound professional. I bet their next version of cease and desist will be better.

  95. I do think knitting takes more effort and skill than at least some of the Olympic sports. You can’t tell me table tennis requires more skill and training than knitting. Also, the Olympics, including Paralympics, is about competing in something and doing the best you can on as high a level as you can with others doing the same. There is no explicit intrinsic value to specific events or even sports in general and there shouldn’t be. No one would agree that sports on any level is more important than other activities. Sports, on any level, is not more important than training as hard and for as long in the sciences, arts, or social sciences. The problem here is consumerism.
    As for his apology, it was condescending and didn’t retract a thing. Which means it wasn’t an apology at all. He said he was sorry people were upset by what was said and that what was said was correct. In other words, don’t be mad but I meant every word. No form letter could have been that specific, so he was lying as well. As to the enforcement of brand protection, a world run by the letter of the law instead of the spirit of the law is a cold and inhumane world. When money matters more than people generating support for each other, there is a fundamental problem.
    As for the USOC providing support for athletes and that being so important, I have trained my entire life as a scientist. No one paid my way for me. I’ve worked for it. If you want it badly enough, you work for it. It’s nice for the USOC to subsidize athletes, but they aren’t saving the world. It’s sports. It’s no more or less important to the world than national sports, just more hyped. And more heavily commercialized.

  96. Actually those 2 sentences (Minus the knitter specific stuff) are truly a part of their standard cease and desist letter. (See redneck olympics example) 2 completely unnecessary sentences that can be seen as insulting by plenty of recipients. The difference is that Ravelry happened to be a big enough organization whose actions protesting the letter were big enough to attract national notice. Consequently i doubt Mr. Hirsch will lose his internship over it, and it may well have made him infamous and actually help his career- as long as his future bosses aren’t textile artists. I still think they need to change the letter, and I will stand behind any organization that has received the letter with this derogatory phrasing.

  97. Very well put. I, too, completely understand the infringement issue and the need to defend their mark, but their wording did sting a bit. It’s too bad the USOC didn’t put a little more thought or supervision into their letter – would have saved them a lot of headache, I’m sure.
    Don’t you have to wonder what the reaction in the USOC office was to realizing they’d seriously pissed off a lot of people with pointy sticks? Oh, to have been a fly on that wall!

  98. After reading some of the comments elsewhere, my gut clenched when I saw the topic of your post today. I shouldn’t have worried! As always, you are a sane and levelheaded voice. If anyone else asks me what I think I’ll just send them here.

  99. So I’m in NZ so the USOC probably isn’t going to come after me either, but I’m just looking forward to having a challenge involving like minded people. Maybe just rename it the Ravelry Games and hope the Hunger Games people don’t come for Jess and Casey? As a former (wannabe) athlete I agree with what Steph has said so clearly – my sister has the athletic talent I lacked and we hope to support her at future games instead.

  100. Well said. I’m planning on watching the Olympics and knitting a sweater for my granddaughter. Nothing’s changed.

  101. I was ticked off (to use a mild term) when I saw this blow up on twitter. I do think many have taken it too far with boycott talk etc. But I do think there is some reason to be a bit outraged at the sweeping demands for anything “Olympic” or “-lympic” to be changed or taken down. I thought this heading into the Vancouver games and before also. I get the trademark issue, but I don’t think this is that. No one in their right mind would think that Ravelry is really hosting a competition that is in direct competition with the actual Olympics. But I’ll back away from that one.
    My biggest issue was with the fact that the US Olympic committee claimed to own the copyright to the term “Olympic” (which, yes they do in the US) without any recognition that Ravelry and the Ravelympics are a world wide event. The writer took the time to poke around the site & find a bunch of links to projects that violated their trademark but didn’t do any investigation into what, exactly, the Ravelympics are.
    Then, the writer took it a step further and basically insulted all handcrafters who would participate. The fact that this section of the letter is actually boilerplate makes it worse in some ways.
    I do really appreciate your reasoned post and that you invite discussion. I have definitely come to my senses somewhat from my initial outrage. I still think the whole thing is wrong, but that doesn’t mean it’s not following the (US) Law.

  102. As both an athlete AND an artist/knitter, I am in agreement in general with your assessment. Being an athlete is a LOT harder than being a knitter. But we’re comparing two entirely different avenues. I don’t think knitting is comparable to Kleenex-eating in the same way that I don’t think athleticism is comparable to any art.
    My freshman year of college, I was on the varsity track team and a music major taking a music composition course. Both of them were KILLER hard, but I never said, ‘well, I can do one more lap because I wrote a badass composition yesterday’ or ‘I can make this harmony work out because I did great at my event this afternoon’. One wasn’t better than the other, they were just different.
    Everyone needs to take a step back and realize that value and worth are subjective. Things don’t come with inherent value, even if a lot of people agree on it. I would be a lot sadder if I could never knit again than I would be if the olympics never happened again, but I’m not going to ask anyone else to feel that way.
    P.S. Threatening the people who upset you with pointy sticks is probably not the way to encourage airlines to let us knit on the plane. If you must threaten, go for fisticuffs. They can’t ask you to stow those in your checked baggage.

  103. How did I not even know this was going on? Thank you so much, Stephanie, for your calm and measured account, but Juliafc above hit the nail on the head for me. My gut reaction when I heard about the “don’t use our logo”–Cool. I see that that that’s not ok.
    But “don’t use the suffix -‘lympics’ because we own that too”- well, as an ancient historian, my first reaction was ‘#%&@ you, US Olympic nabobs, you don’t OWN the concept of the Olympic games. Do I have to send you a check or bleep out my speech when I give my Greek cultural history lectures? You didn’t invent the name or the concept and there is no way that a tribute competition called the ‘Ravelympics’ could be confused with an officially sanctioned event or harm you financially in any way. Satire is fair use, dudes, and a ‘sweater triathalon’ is probably best understood as such.
    The ‘denigration’ bit was just a low blow. There is a big difference between saying that something “is not equivalent to” and saying that a comparision denigrates the original. Winning at Church Bingo is not equivalent to winning the MegaMillions. Claiming that they are similar is silly, but it doesn’t insult the hallowed institution of the Lotto.
    Denigration is claiming INSULT by comparison. Referring to the non-genocidal politician on the other side of the aisle as “just like Hitler” because you don’t like his policy on education/tax structure/health care/whatever is an example of denigration, because it minimalizes the suffering and deaths of millions of people by implying that this suffering is somehow meaningfully comparable to whatever has you p*%ssed off. *as an interesting side note, in 1936, the pro-Nazi commissioner of the USOC was instrumental in tamping down the protests of the US amateur athletic association in order to ensure the US participation in the great farce that was the Berlin Olympics. Sucks to him, though, because Jesse Owens schooled ’em good.
    Would I demand an apology? You betcha. But since it looks like one has been offered, I guess that works for me. I still think that the USOC is wrong to ask Ravelry not to use the term “Ravelympics”, but whatever.

  104. I came to your blog with the expectation of a sane response to this issue/event. You did not fail us. Thank you. My own response to the letter from USOC was “fine, change the name”. It still remains a fun idea to have knitting activities tied to the schedule of the Olympics.

  105. USOC’s case against Ravelry is not as straight-forward as you suggest. USOC has a trademark on “Olympics.” “Ravelympics” is a different word, and I doubt that the USOC has trademarked that term. The most important test for a trademark violation is whether or not there is a risk of confusion in the market. Anyone worried about confusion between the Olympics and the Ravelympics???
    In addition, trademarks only apply in specific areas of commerce or endeavor.
    I’m familiar with the situation that you refer to regarding Sock Summit 09. In that instance, the group organizing the event was using the term Sock Summit. In addition, the local event was involved knitting socks and was therefore quite similar the Knot Hysteria Sock Summit. Because of the combination of those two circumstances, your attorney was correct and you needed to assert your trademark rights. This is a different situation, however, because the neither of those concerns applies: the terms are not identical and there is no risk of confusion in the marketplace.
    I can understand that Jess and Casey might opt not to contest the cease and desist letter. If the USOC persists, it may not be worth the time and expense of defending the use of the term Ravelympics against a legal action, even though I think Ravelry would succeed. However, it sounds from the NPR story like the USOC may back off entirely.

  106. Beautifully done, Stephanie,and because you are training so hard for this bike ride,you know personally how hard the Olympic athletes must train in mind, body and spirit. This blog came from your heart and personal experience. BRAVO.

  107. I appreciate your willingness to get your point of view out there in a rational and calm manner … but I’m with commenter Alex on this point. I respectfully disagree with your putting elite athletes on a pedestal, as well as with your “denigration” analysis. The meaning of the word “Olympics” in the context of the games isn’t diluted by “Ravelympics.” Moreover, a much better approach (as is the case in most trademark/copyright issues) is to offer a licensing opportunity – because, as you point out, Ravelry is a business. Because the Ravelympics actually *increases* Olympic viewership (just read all the comments from crafters who, if not for the Ravelympics, wouldn’t give too hoots about the Olympic games) the USOC’s defense of the trademark in this manner is counterproductive, on all fronts – and let’s leave out the real human emotions that are a valid part of all this.
    A fellow Raveler from Vancouver, B.C. wrote in the big Ravelry thread discussion yesterday that this C&D letter was the start of the Olympics’ defense of the trademark imploding on itself (and I’m paraphrasing). Given similar things that have happened in Britain (but much more extreme, in my opinion) and now this, with all of its social media implications, I tend to side with my fellow Raveler to the north. Corporate greed a/k/a sponsorship money (which is at the heart of the C&D letter) is the antithesis of true Olympic spirit, and this just underscores how far off course TPTB have veered.
    I am, quite frankly, surprised that you don’t see the larger issue here, and are so willing to subsume your very real talents to athletes who are no less talented – but the talents are just different. How many of them are NYT bestselling authors? What makes an athelete’s gold medal any more worhty than your best-selling books?

  108. And, something else to keep in mind is that it’s “fun” to be angry – no matter how detrimental it actually is to one’s physical or emotional health. It’s addictive. The more who share your emotion, the more it grows. It’s exponential. The knitosphere’s emotions have flared as more and more have chimed in with outrage. Hmm… sometimes the social connections of the internet act as gasoline on a fire. We display the same mentality as a crowd does and the frightening thing about it is the virtual aspect-which makes us less concerned about our actions.

  109. Whew! Thank you giving a very thoughtful, rational perspective, especially about your own experiences with the Sock Summit trademark. I will put my double pointed weapons away and go back to knitting.

  110. As others have said before me, thanks for being the voice of reason. You made a lot of good points (including the bit about copyright infringement, which I certainly didn’t know) and hopefully will be a balm for the hurt feelings amongst knitters of the world.

  111. The fact that the USOC is able to use the Olympics or Olympic games as intellectual property is shocking to me — the Olympic games go back to the 8th c. B.C.E.
    Not cool, USOC.

  112. Thank you (1000)
    I’ve been trying to make these points to all the knitters I’ve spoken to today. So much more eloquent than I have been.

  113. I agree with saneknitter. This controversy is about much more than “brand” protection, and I do think my knitting and crocheting skills are as hard won and praiseworthy as any Olympian contestant’s skills. I don’t need to be soothed, and I have been educated by these events. I will not support the USOC or it’s sponsors, nor will I watch the games. I will play marathons of my favorite shows and attempt a knitting project that heretofore has been beyond my capabilities, and I will be as proud of my accomplishments as any other Olympian.

  114. Thank you. I’ve been trying to condense the sentiment of this post into lengths that are appropriate for my various online media, and it just hasn’t happened. Now, at least, I can just post this link.

  115. I think it would be kind of nice to meet what could have been a negative with a positive. What about knitting things for the athletes or in honor of the athletes and the price they’ve paid to be the best in the world? I seem to remember there being a project to knit scarves for all the participants in the Special Olympics or paralympics or something. Maybe a longer term goal to join in one of those movements for when those come along?

  116. Very nicely put. Thank you for putting the time & effort to put this into perspective.
    I love the power of voice our community has but in this case I think we let some careless language by a clerk who obviously does not have a crafter in their life, make this a personal issue when in reality it is a legal & business issue.
    As always appreciate, your time, effort and thoughts on your blog. Cheers!

  117. Ditto what everyone else (all the reasonable people anyway) have said above…Please know that sometimes it does, indeed, take me four years to finish knitting something. When I finish, I deserve a gold medal, too. Thanks for your smart head and your good heart.

  118. Well, what bugged me to the point that I actually e-mailed USOC is that the Olimpics are (in theory at least) about inspiring ordinary people to reach higher and farther. But when a group of knitters tries to challange themselves in the Olympic spirit – they are told that invoking the Olympic ideals in their effort is disrespectful of Olympic athletes.
    I don’t mind the trademark issue (so much – I think trademarking the word “Olymics” is questionable, but it’s a fact). I do mind the tone of the letter a lot. I am happy they apologized. I wish they act in the Olymoc spirit whatever they do, including legal communications. They are after all in charge of spreading Olympic ideals.

  119. I appreciate what you’ve said, and as always, how well you’ve said it. I’m not quite ready, however, to forgive the insensitivity of their statement or their apology (either version). Maybe I’m not a big enough person, or maybe I just need more time.

  120. I was unaware of this issue before I encountered your post. Thank you for examining both sides, and being understanding and generally awesome.

  121. I think what bothered me, is that I never thought of my project during the Olympics as being the same, I thought of it as my way to project loving feelings to the athletes while they represent me. And when people don’t respect my minor contribution to my athletes and their inspiring accomplishments, I feel left out and unappreciated. Plus I spent a lot of time picking out the perfect project to show how much I appreciate them.

  122. Good work, Stephanie. Thank you for taking time out of your life to address this controversy. In fact, I hadn’t realized the legal implications of not defending your trademark, and that makes complete sense to me now.
    Hope the cool Pacific NW brings you happiness and plenty of Knot Hysteria! (BTW, have you seen the movie Hysteria? It is WONDERFUL! Think you would really enjoy.)

  123. Well said. I bet that your recent experiences in increasing your athletic abilities(ie biking) have given you a fresh and painful appreciation of their acheievements.

  124. I appreciate your comments, but I also — possibly for the first time in all the years I’ve read you — feel a little bit insulted.
    Telling me to take a deep breath and insinuating that hurt feelings aren’t a valid reason to withhold financial or other support seems dismissive. Yes, big girl panties (or big boy briefs) are called for on occasion, but I sort of resent you telling me that I shouldn’t be upset by this.
    I’ve now read your post four times, and each time I have felt more and more disappointed. I expect to be dismissed by a committee that takes money from Dow Chemical, but I didn’t expect it from you.

  125. I am not an athlete. I’m a knitter. And I agree with every word you said. Thanks for being the voice of reason and, as you said, class. As you always are. <3

  126. You are the only person whose blog I actually reread from the beginning, and for awhile I thought it was because you’re witty (I enjoy that sort of thing). Now that I’ve been here for something like eight years, done quite a bit of personal growing, and learned basic communication skills, I have to amend my initial assessment. I don’t follow you as avidly as I do because you’re witty; I do it because you’re intelligent in ways that most people don’t even thing to use to classify intelligence, honest as only someone who has spent a very long time learning about herself can be, astonishingly capable and productive in spite of being a self-identified procrastinator (as am I, although I’ve never put together even one Sock Summit and you’ve done…er…many), and deeply rational in a way that has nothing to do with surface chaos or procrastination or any of the things that you share so openly and humorously every day.
    Also, on top of all of that, you are witty. Sometimes you make me laugh so hard that I drop stitches.

  127. once again it is demonstrated that the rest of the world that is not American just doesn’t exist. The USOC is not the IOC. They don’t own the olympic movement, they are not the only Olympic organising committee, and for goodness sake the games are not being held anywhere remotely near US soil. There are 2 million ravellers, true, but a heck of a lot of us, Ms SPMcP included, are not american, are not going to be watching the US televised coverage or the US sponsors’ advertisements. The guy who wrote, and whoever authorised both the original cease-and-desist and the half-assed ‘apology’ are total idiots.
    We know this.
    They are not the IOC, They are not the athletes representing each of their countires [ including the US ]
    We are Ravelers and we will rise above all this idiocy and go on both knitting/ crocheting/spinning AND watching elite athletes compete in a spirit hopefully of unity.

  128. Again and again your balanced, thoughtful and well spoken missives in the midst of chaos and turmoil, lifts my spirits, lends me hope, makes me want to stalk you until you agree to be my friend…

  129. THANK YOU.
    And to those who plan on boycotting the Olympics, remember that it should be about supporting your country’s amateur athletes. Those people who make no living from competing in their sport and who need you to cheer them on after they’ve spent their entire life working towards that one moment. Be the bigger person and show the USOC that you don’t give a damn about what they may or may not think about knitters, and yell as loud as possible for the sprinters, marathoners, and everyone else working their hardest to bring home the gold.

  130. Blessings and Peace to you and all my knitting friends. I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been to look beyond your own emotions to write a thoughtful, balanced, respectful response. You have set the standard for us and for them, thank you.

  131. I retain the right to remain level-headed unless and until someone comes knocking on the Tour de Fleece. Then I’ll get cranky. Bike a bajillion miles? Sure. But can you turn a sheep into a sweater? ;D

  132. As always you are so amazing. I wish I’d grown up with someone as amazing as you in my life.

  133. Steph, you are truly a wise and diplomatic lady.
    This is why people were asking you to speak on the subject.
    We knew you would speak calmly and rationally.
    Brava madame, I tip my needles to you. 🙂

  134. if you don’t defend your trademark every time, you lose the right to defend it at all.”
    Thank you for explaining this! I was mad until i read this. Even if they weren’t the most polite in their letter, knowing they MUST at least send the letter is the most important part of this whole thing.
    Also, though, the ravelympics are an event relating to the olympics, which is something that word means.

  135. Thank you for all the effort you put into crafting this response.
    You’d think an organization that knows enough not to stand in the way of javelin throwers would be more respectful of knitters with stiletto needles!

  136. Ahhhh, another voice of reason. Also worth perusing is the thread on this in the Knitting Attorneys forum on Ravelry. Sane voices there, too.

  137. Thank you. Beautifully put, as always. I still personally think that the word Ravelympics doesn’t impinge on their trademark–though it does come close–but hey.

  138. I disagree. Maybe it is because I am both a serious amateur athlete as well as a knitter, but that which makes for the extraordinary artist is just as rare and requires just as much cultivation as that which makes the extraordinary athlete. It is just that cultivating the appreciation of the difference between a competent fabric artist and a truely extraordinary one is much more difficult than who got across the finish line first.
    Since sports seems to be the favored arena for the moment, knitting is to sports as dressage is to show jumping.
    I do agree with your point about trademark & copyright. They were in the right about that bit. It was just the dismissive whining about insulting THE OLYMPICS went up my nose sideways given the amount of drug use, product placement, and financial exploitation that is part and parcel of the modern Olympics. If I am going to support an athlete, I write them a check directly and skip the governing bodies, who, regardless of their non-profit status, are problematic organizations.

  139. I did wonder what you would have to say on the subject, and I just want to say THANK YOU. I was kind of having a hard time about why I wasn’t having as hard a time about it as everyone else in Twitterland and on Ravelry. To be honest, I think the key word that got every knitters undies in a twist is the word “denigrate”. Up until that point, I think people might’ve been disappointed, but would have let it slide.
    So Ravelry has to change the name of a knitting game, big whoop. Although I don’t agree that they should change it to The Ravelry Games, because then The Hunger Games people will start in on it. lol. 🙂 It’s also similar to shops not being able to have a sale that might be “super” or in a “bowl”, especially around late January/early February. It’s just a name, people, and it’s just knitting. 🙂

  140. Thank you for a reasoned and reasonable view from the business side of the issue. I have decided to cease and desist from being upset by this issue, and to substitute wry amusement.
    You brought up an EXCELLENT point – that the USA privatizes the Olympic Games, thus funding for American athletes has to come from the private sector, i.e. us. More thanks are in order for reminding us of that fact.
    Who would have thought that we knitters would become so powerful that a mighty organization like the USOC would feel compelled to apologize to us not once, but twice?

  141. Dear Lady Stephanie,
    Thank you for your sense of reason and class. Any thoughts on “Tour de Fleece”? Just being proactive.

  142. I’m glad they apologized for the language used in the letter (Denigrating the true nature of the games? That’s a bit over the top) and I understand the legal aspects. I think it would have been really great if they had offered a way for Ravelry to offer an approved project. I think they missed an opportunity to gain the support of a really awesome community that is simply acknowledging the Games in their own inimitable way.

  143. That was a very thoughtful and well reasoned response.
    For myself, when I compete in the “Knitting Olympics” (I, uh, never really did embrace calling it Ravelympics) I always thought of it in terms of supporting the athletes, and never like I was pretending I was one of them. Knitting isn’t Olympic level athletics, I totally get that.
    I do think that telling me I’m denigrating the Olympic experience because I’m glued to my TV and challenging myself to create something instead of eating a lot of popcorn is stretching it a bit. It was rudely put, and yeah… hurtful.
    ::shrug:: At the end of the day, I’m gonna knit and I’m gonna watch Bob Costas, and it’s going to be okay.
    Thank you for being the voice of calm and reason, Steph. You got classy all over you.

  144. I get the thing about protecting trademarks (though the Olympics were around long before the US existed, and lots of countries have Olympic teams, and folks on Ravelry are rooting for teams all over the world. It’s not just a US thing. It seems like the USOC has some kind of tunnel vision). If they want to send a cease and desist letter, ok. I understand that they need to do that for legal reasons. But the condescending, patronizing “you are not worthy” crap just wasn’t necessary.

  145. Thank you. Thank you for clearly stating why the outrage thing has just gone overboard. I think that TPTB at Ravelry and their lawyers have everything well in hand, that the fiber related games should be renamed, that the Olympic committee is in the right as regards their name and trademark, and that the knitters who are pushing boycotts, etc., need to go knit and make beautiful things and appreciate that other people make the world beautiful in their own ways and that these ways are not mutually exclusive.

  146. I spent a goodly amount of time reading posts on Ravelry last night and today. IMHO Your explanations are reasoned and good. I get the logo/name thing. That is not what is bothering me. I don’t think the point that has bothered many of us was addressed by you.
    The letter to Casey was denigrating to knitters but in business language. OK – but the so called apology was patronizing in the extreme. When you apologize to someone do you then ask them to do you a favor for free?
    The second apology was merely to make us go away. If they had the same spirit they say the Olympics has, after reading so many postings, they might recognize that our games bring money to the Olympics as many of us would otherwise not be watching and therefore not hearing the commercials. They might make a real apology. The ones I have read are pro forma. It all leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

  147. Dear Stephanie,
    As always you are the wonderful true voice of reason! Thank you for being eloquent and honest and truthful. But I just wanted to add one slight deviation – For me it is going to be a truly Olympic feat as I am trying to knit faster than I have ever knitted before and beat my 287 sts in 3 minutes from the 2000 Guinness Fastest Knitter Event in Union Square Park. I would like to be in the record books even if I came in third (bronze) so that said I applaud you forever for being the most selfless – divine – woman I know!! hugs, Karola

  148. Well said Step. A voice of reason. Would not have expected anything else from you. I still want to know if you are going to knit Stephen Colbert a pair of socks.

  149. So very carefully thought out , and so very well said ! I’m having a glass of wine in your honour .

  150. Stephanie, you are wise. One can tell you have raised a number of well-rounded children.

  151. My God, Stephanie, as great as you are at knitting, midwifery, writing, parenting and who knows what else, I truly think you may have missed your calling. The diplomatic corps is in desparate need of you. Great job! You are our leader!

  152. I think the upsetting thing about this is not the USOC telling Rav not to use the Olympic name, but how they asked. Words have meaning, and the words of their letter were very insulting. I expect better of the USOC. They should be operating in the Olympic Spirit.

  153. For anyone who still thinks this is about amateur sports in the USA, think again. These athletes have had some sort of sponsorship since they were little. Totally get the the USOC is protecting the Olympic trademark, but don’t go down that amateur pathway. (and yes, I do know that some smaller sports do not get ANY monies from the USOC) This is all about big money and advertising. When our “teams” go back to true amateur status, then I will start contributing again. Below is the USA’s basketball team. Spirit of what the games intended…I think not.
    http://www.usabasketball.com/mens/national/2012MOLYroster.html

  154. So how much does Ravelry have the change the name? If Ravelympics is unacceptable, how about Ravlympics? Or would have still be too similar? We could try.

  155. Such a good peacemaker! Add another talent to your resume. Thanks for the words of wisdom & reason!

  156. I may have laughed out loud hard enough to scare the dog at the “what if you knew someone who ate kleenex” part. Thank-you for that.

  157. Eating kleenex!!!!!! what pink thing are you inhaling? You always crack me up. Oh, and your real smart too.

  158. Wow, if you weren’t a n knitter you’d be a great
    diplomat or Prime Minister ! Thanks for your blog as always. Nice to real a voice of reason.

  159. I like that motto “stay classy”. But I also like the idea of drowning Stephen Colbert in hand-knit socks, because his show is the perfect venue for the idea that knitting denigrates the Olympic athletes. It’s funny, not insulting. So, I say: “Knitters, Stay Classy, and Appreciate the Irony.”

  160. Thank you Stephanie for writing such a cogent piece on this issue. I work with trademark attorneys and I think they would be impressed by your explanations.
    With respect to boycotts, do it if you want. But, frankly, go enjoy the competitions. These athletes have worked much of their lives to get to the Olympics. They would do it without an audience, but I am sure would prefer people to watch and cheer them on. The kid who coxed my son’s gold medal novice boat when they were both freshmen in high school is coxing the U.S. men’s 8+ in London. Another kid who my kids rowed with is rowing in the U.S. lightweight 4+. I wouldn’t miss watching those events for anything in the world.

  161. I’ve only seen the tiniest thing about this on Rav (family in town, so way less screen time than usual). Very well said and excellent points, Steph. I admire you for sticking up for what you think is right when you are pretty certain to get super flamed for it.

  162. (First, not even gonna touch the trademark bit. They’re totally spot-on & well within their rights on that. Gotta protect your copyright.)
    My problem with the situation as a whole is the jock-y athletic elitism that comes with the idea that using a different modifyer next to a sport to make one’s own version of it completely denigrates the original event. Because, as we all know, ice hockey’s gone right down the toilet since the advent of air hockey, and football’s a complete joke since the invention of paper football.
    I can’t think of a better example than a marathon. We talk all the time about doing a “knitting marathon” (especially around the holidays), or a student might do a “studying marathon” right up until their final exam, or…
    Well, an entire town might do a reading marathon, the way Hopkinton, Massachusetts (home of the starting line of the Boston Marathon) did back in 2010. An event that was part of a big celebration with their sister city of Marathon, Greece, to commemorate the 2500th anniversary of the Battle of Marathon. The events–including the reading marathon–were endorsed by the then-mayor of Marathon, who seems to take a lot of pride in the sport named after his city being used to describe any lengthy, grueling, and very demanding task. Although reading is for the most part a very passive activity that even a child can perform (and arguably master by the time they’re 10 years old), nobody thought that holding a reading marathon would denigrate the sport of marathoning or the runners who train every damn day to be able to perform better than anybody else in the world at it (even when the professionals can only participate in one or two marathons in a year).
    I dunno, maybe it’s just because runners are on the whole a surprisingly laid-back, non-judgemental, and inviting group. Seriously, have you ever met a runner who *didn’t* try to convince somebody that they should get into running, unless the person they were talking to didn’t have use of their legs? I really think other sports need to look to runners to get an attitude adjustment; you’re not better than anybody else for having a more marketable skill.

  163. Maybe someday they’ll resurrect the art competitions and knitting can join the ranks of Olympic Arts, along with poetry and sculpture.

  164. ohoh you may have just denigrated kleenex eaters!
    Why dont we creatively come up with a new name or our event and let the games go on!
    thanks for being the voice of reason.

  165. I respectfully disagree with you, and I do think your post is condescending to fiberphiles. I agree with Alex at 5:44 who said that athletes should not be valued above artists, and I want to add that if there’s one thing we should leave to our children it’s a better world in which any worthwhile activity they engage in should be of equal value to anyone else’s worthwhile activity.
    The trademark thing is fine, I agree that copyright should be protected, but it should be protected internationally in that case, not just for US citizens.
    Further, I think the USOC missed a great sponsorship opportunity here. They could have branded a yarn company to make Olympic™ yarn and made a fortune from Ravelers.

  166. No one seems to have mentioned the fact that Ravelry will ultimately benefit from this incident. The story was on NPR and is probably on the AP wire and that boils down to free advertising! How many new people will visit their site just to see what the story is all about?
    I really appreciate and agree with your perspective.
    In the end, I view this as a positive for Ravelry.

  167. Steph, Thanks so much for a well thought out and reasonable discussion of this topic. I have been seeing the tweets and blog posts and feeling like the USOC, while perfectly in its right to protect its trademark and logos, etc, should have handled it better. I loved your analysis, and really appreciated the link to the apology. I had not seen that. You are very right about what it takes to compete at that level – it IS very different and special. And while I have been fairly amused by the reaction as much as anything, I am hopeful that this post will stop it from being an issue all summer long!

  168. You make some solid points but I think I speak for many of us when I say we weren’t all reacting to “hurt feelings”.
    There comes a point where you draw your line in the sand and you say ENOUGH to big corporations, brand protection and bullying. Maybe some can’t articulate that as elegantly as others, but I am glad that however professional or emotional the voice, that people had both the freedom to speak and that they were, in fact, heard.
    Some of us are simply speaking out for what seems to be a good thing gone too far and that’s trademarking and brand protection.
    If you read some of the Ravelry forum you would have heard about the bullying that’s happening in the UK ( a lingerie shop, for goodness sake, told to take down a torch in their window display) — and certainly Canadians expressed their displeasure over the high handed antics displayed prior to the Olympic games. Protecting your trademark I can support — but the derivative form (of which Ravelry is accused) is not expressly forbidden unless it leads people to believe that in some way there’s an “official affiliation”. Regardless of those knitters who feel Olympian in every fiber of their being, I don’t think anyone would SERIOUSLY have had a moment’s confusion about whether or not Ravelympics was in any way, shape or form, part of the official Olympic games. There’s something to be said for “the spirit of the law”.
    I think that the fact that an apology was given at noon today (whatever we may feel about its sincerity ) is proof that maybe, just possibly, there was some overzealousness applied on both sides.
    And sometimes it is not only okay but the right thing to do
    to stand up and speak out for something that offends you even if it’s just to remind yourself that you are still a free citizen in a democratic society with the right to free speech. And sometimes it’s okay if you aren’t so polite or politically correct or even heaven forbid, emotional.
    Yes, the lawyers will handle it. But we’ve had our day in the public court of opinion too.
    Did some people get carried away? Yes. It happens.
    I’m a Canadian but I am currently living in the USA and I think I speak for many a citizen here when I say that sometimes you get fed up with the litigious nature of this society and you want to scream at someone to just give it a break.
    And it sure is nice to roar in the company of friends — thanks to all my knitterly friends who raised their voices of protest with mine.

  169. As always, said in the most brilliant and erudite way. I’m glad that the USOC apologized, and hopefully now knitters can turn their attention to their knitting-while-the-Olympics-are-on-or-off pursuits.

  170. Love ya, Steph, and I think your background and recent experience gives you a lovely perspective. Naturally well-expressed.
    Context does make a difference, and the USOC is rather a bully who has a history of trying to (and sometimes succeeding in) forcing PNW businesses to change their names, derived from their own mountain range, which is nonsensical. In fact, they are a bunch of very highly paid and powerful bullies (not the letter-writer, of course). The goal of supporting US athletes is noble; the reality is much more crass, sadly (when the CEO of the ‘non-profit’ USOC is making 900,000K, I have to think that resources could be better distributed). I don’t disagree with you, but also think that the situation is ambiguous in that the Ravelympics themselves are not a commercial enterprise (the Ravelympic founders — who are not Jess and Casey– have no goal of making money), and they are not a competition (the activities specifically banned in the Act that gave the USOC its US monopoly on the word “Olympics” and ‘derivatives thereof’). You are right, though, of course, that Ravelry is a for-profit enterprise.
    Like the Knitting Olympics, the Ravelympics are about challenging onself. Yes, there are ‘competitions’, but you are only competing against yourself, this year, to challenge yourself. It’s not about who makes the biggest afghan… Most people aren’t saying that knitters are like elite athletes. Yes, some are making that comparison. What’s crazy is that the Ravelympics were encouraging watching and cheering during the Summer Olympics, and in no way competing with it.
    I’m just sad about the unnecessary snark and drama. There would have been some in any case, with a cease and desist order, but a la carte snide comments in the original letter were not called for. Their presence were what did indeed irritate me. “Denigrate” and “disrespectful” are not lawyerspeak…
    Ah, well, panties will come unbunched on all sides eventually (perhaps), and this too shall pass, presumably with a name change. The second USOC apology mollifies me rather.
    Thanks for the calm and reasoned exposition, though. I appreciate your viewpoint.

  171. Thanks for explaining the trademark issue in small words so I can understand it. Now I think the law is really stupid, but not so much that the USOC is a being a bully.

  172. Thank you for a thoughtful and reasoned analysis and response. You made several points that I hadn’t considered, and provided me with information that I didn’t know about trademark law and the reasons why a trademark has to be defended. I wasn’t really outraged by the USOC letter or responses, but did think it was a little out of line. Based on your blog post, I certainly understand their reasons. I never once considered boycotting the Olympics or the athletes as I respect what the Olympics stand for and the efforts of the athletes to achieve the best they can.

  173. Thanks Steph.
    I am pushing my “LOVE” button two million times. 🙂 There will always be people out there that are ignorant to how passionate knitters are – and although the way the USOC communicated their message was ridiculous, I still think that participating in all of the knitting fun we do during the Olympics is fabulous – and these guys can’t stop me from having that fun – no matter what we call it.

  174. Wow. Best explanation of the reasons for trademark protection and law that I have read–and I’m a lawyer! Thank you for your thorough and level headed explanation! I will do my own version of non-trademark olympic knitting. And, I will have fun!

  175. I agree with mary jane. I have worked for large corporations in which a threatening and bullying response was their opening gambit. The IOC’s behaviour worldwide (not just the USA) frequently brings them into disrepute, in my opinion.
    The cheating, lying, doping and “win at any cost” behaviour demonstrated at the Olympic Games is symptomatic of ugly nationalism which should have no place in sport. Although I am an Australian, I never watch the olympics just to see how many gold medals come back to this country. Nor do I support the concentration on a few elite athletes at the cost of participation by everyone.
    Ravelry’s ravelympics will be celebrated by me whatever form it takes. Ravelry supports and encourages participation by all who love knitting and THAT is what I enjoy – inclusion, support and skill.

  176. Your post is an example of one of the many reasons I respect and admire you. Well done!

  177. Thanks for this. We all needed it. I am a ravelympic-er for two olympics now, a knitting olympic-er for one, and certainly understand that our art is a completely different animal compared to olympic athletes. Having a nephew who has trained for many years in diving (and, I mean, TRAINED)compared to my evenings knitting, I certainly understand the incredible difference in the two. VERY DIFFERENT PURSUITS. Thanks, Steph, for throwing some cold water on those of us who needed it.

  178. Thanks so much for the blog! I would also never compare my knitting to an Olympic feat (unless I’m knitting lace). What I will say, is that I think you might be taking the “denigrate” comment a little too nicely. I agree with some of the comments above, that denigrate was meant to suggest that the mere association of knitting with the Olympics is, in and of itself, ridiculous and harmful to that which it represents. They have apologized (twice) and that’s cool.
    I do think that the quickfire comments online, especially about why the letter was hurtful, have helped people misunderstand what the Ravelympics are supposed to be: a time when knitters watch the games and knit and have fun. But maybe that’s because I’ve always followed a more “Knitter Olympics” style to the “Ravelympics”
    Having said this, I think it’s a boon for knitters everywhere to rise up! How fantastic is it that people all over the internet now know what Ravelry is, and that it’s a super huge network of awesomely crafty people with pride, both in their craft and in their countries competing in the Olympics?! Go knitters!
    I love love love the Olympics. I cannot wait for the diving competition. I think I will knit socks. Knit on!

  179. Thanks for your perspective. I didn’t know about the “if you don’t defend your copyright every time you lose it” clause. If the USOC’s lawyer had been as moderate and mindful as you, I’m sure your inbox wouldn’t be as full as it was and todays post would have involved pictures of swatches for tank tops and an almost complete Omlette.

  180. Since the Olympics is a lot about national pride and often leads us to claim for ourselves the glory others earned by sweat, practice and sacrifice, I will say that I am proud it was a Canadian who poured water on these hot flames. Thanks, Steph. Can we hear “O Canada” now?

  181. Stephanie, I appreciate your candor, and I openly embraced the logical points you’ve made. Upon reflection, I largely agree.
    But I, for one, am tired of being told all my life that what I do is not good enough, by people who deem themselves the authority on what IS good enough. I’m talking about the USOC.
    Buried down deep inside of even the most well-adjusted knitter (crafter, artist, musician, etc) there is still a small part that feels unworthy–either OF the craft or BECAUSE of the craft–who has heard one too many references to “grandma”, “afghans”, and so on; and whose challenging work, be it their own design or the expert execution of another’s pattern, has gone under-appreciated by their loved ones.
    I think this belief is at the heart of the uproar. Once again, we fiber artists are being told, in public no less, by a huge corporate entity, that we are unworthy, that what we love to do is not good enough to be held up against another activity.
    Not only that, but that we dare to participate in this activity while watching the other one, and that we dare to compare it in any way to this other activity denigrates and disrespects those doing the “real” activity–the ones who “really” work hard. How dare we. Silly little knitters. How dare we think we’re even close to good enough to touch the hem of the garments worn by these athletes (which are, by the way, made of knit and woven fabric).
    The USOC’s tone was snarky and condescending, and it hits to the core of our fragile belief systems.
    That’s the crux of the issue. Not copyright infringement, not the notion that our work doesn’t compare to their work–it’s the sense of being reminded yet again that we aren’t good enough to rate. I know that’s how it made ME feel. And I’m generally a very philosophical, see-the-other-perspective person such as yourself.
    But I’m still too angry to knit. 🙂

  182. A nice calm voice of reason. I think we’ve made our point, and we did get an apology, however heartfelt it may, or may not have been. Let’s stop worrying about them, and get back to what’s important. Celebrating the spirit of the Olympics by challenging ourselves in what we love to do. The USOC is NOT the Olympics or the athletes involved, and I’m still looking forward to cheering on my countries athletes and spending the time during the Olympics in challenging myself to do MY best and cheering on my teammates. Oh, and I don’t care what the name of the group is, this will be fun no matter what it may be.

  183. Yeaup, pretty much. My biggest problem with the USOC’s initial letter was the language. I always view the Ravelympics as a celebration of the Olympic games and what they represent, and to have them insinuate that somehow they are degrading and disrespectful of the athletes was what really stung, and was really insulting. I could never hope to be any sort of athlete, much less an Olympic one, but I can be a great knitter, and the Ravelympics is a challenge to be as excellent as I can be. And isn’t that what the Olympics are about?
    That being said, there was a lot of “OMG I’M NEVER WATCHING THE OLYMPICS AGAIN AND I’M BOYCOTTING ALL THEIR SPONSORS!!!!!1111!!1!111oneoneone” Quite a few people looked up the poor intern who happened to sign the letter on linkdIn, and there was a lot of mudslinging about his character. People posted phone numbers and email addresses to the USOC’s higher ups. And that was the exact wrong reaction. It’s never pretty when a huge group of people feel insulted, and a part of that group goes a little overboard, and I hope the rest of the world doesn’t judge our community on those few bad apples.
    I’m glad the USOC has issued an apology, although it was a little insincere and kind of like a condescending pat on the head, but it was nice that they made the effort and recognized what had happened.
    I suppose I should add that I don’t really care that they’re defending their copyright. It’s their copyright, they have to defend it, and if they want us to change the name, that’s fine. I don’t think it was ever actually said that they wanted us to stop the games, just change the name. It was really the inflammatory language that got to me, and I feel like that’s what most people were upset about as well.

  184. Steph:
    What you say is true, but I have to wonder if the USOC would be so adamant if Berocco or Interweave became sponsors.
    In any event, knitters survive and help others survive through their talents.
    Unfortunately, from a PR standpoint, the tone of the letter is deflating IMHO.

  185. As a knitter AND a former lawyer (who has, from time to time sent cease and desist letters), thank you for this.

  186. I think Denny needs to have bumper stickers made. “Inhale pink, exhale blue”– like a secret handshake.
    I don’t know anyone who eats kleenex, but my nephew used to suck all of the juice out of baby wipes. He didn’t turn pro, though, just grew out of it 🙂
    Great post.

  187. One smart cookie, you are. Contrarian in the finest sense of the word.
    (But am I the only person in the knitting universe who responded with laughter at the Monty Python-esque absurdity of the situation and the pomposity of the language in the c&d letter? Comedy gold.)

  188. That dumb law clerk (not even a lawyer) could have been less disrespectful and this might not have blown up as it did. But the spokesman’s condescending “apology” just fried my bananas — feel free to send us your handmade gifts for us to wear and take with us. As I told that bozo, the only thing I’d make him is a willie warmer out of twine. I have a major problem with professional athletes being allowed to play in an event that’s supposed to be for amateurs so I simply won’t send the U$OC one thin dime.
    BUT I will be participating in the Ravelympics and expect to have a lovely time. Thank you, Stephanie, for starting this tradition 6 years ago. It was a great idea!

  189. Personally, I keep wondering why they targeted the term “Ravalympics” to begin with. It’s parody and therefore protected under US copyright law.

  190. I understand the trademark issues etc and I think they should be protected but the thing is most people weren’t calling for boycotts etc, more just an acknowledgment that the letter was offensive. For me it was just another example of an organisation acting before thinking, being rude and bullying. I’m not in the US but in the UK where LOCOG have been behaving in similarly ridiculous ways. Cultural events were and still are part of the Olympics and this failed to acknowledge that was the case.
    I will still be watching and cheering for our athletes whatever the name of it ends up being but it’s just more than a little ridiculous.

  191. I think the biggest thing knitters can do to show the USOC how great we are is to take them up on their offer of accepting our knitted things to send along with those champions. We show that we are a big loving supportive awesome bunch of peeps as well as supporting our athletes… whether they be In the US or in CANADA.

  192. Good on ya for outlining your opinion in an intelligent and engaging manner. I have nothing but respect for you, and I appreciate that you took the time to calmly point out a different point of view, than most knitters would have.
    Thank you.

  193. Okay, I get the trademark thing.
    But sorry, the language is unforgivable. Does no one supervise this law clerk? He’s not even a real attorney!
    I get the part where he explained the law on the subject. Had he left it at that, my reaction would have been totally different.
    But no, he had to be insulting.
    Really? REALLY?
    They may have the law on their side, but they’re still bullies.

  194. Thank-you, Stephanie. That’s exactly what was needed – a wool blanket on the flames. Well composed.

  195. Interest in sports (I personally have fairly little) has always been a fairly curious thing to me, sociologically speaking. Why do people care SO MUCH about who wins a ball game or swims the fastest? Very few of us have any personal connection at all to these events, and will see absolutely no real consequences as a result of the outcome.
    It seems to me that widespread public interest in sports succeeds in direct proportion to the degree to which people feel that they have “ownership” of the teams/athletes involved. This language is everywhere, “our athletes, our team, our medals, we are sending, we are competing, we have won or lost”. People care because they feel the feel a sense of symbolic connection. Most people won’t ever see an Olympic athlete or event in person, but we can all turn on the TV and see “our team” for free and feel a part of it. When Ravelers participate in the Ravelympics, they foster and deepen this sense of connection.
    But here’s the thing; this sense of ownership is largely a figment of our collective imaginations. Like money, it works if everybody acts as though it has value, but the truth is, you don’t know these people, and they don’t know you. Whether they win or lose is not going to matter in your life at all. Being the world’s fastest woman may be pretty cool, but that and a couple of dollars will get you a ride on the bus. It only matters because we make it matter, because we BELIEVE it matters.
    So it comes as a really, really rude awakening to recieve a cease and desist letter from the USOC.
    Simply put, it bursts the bubble. By saying, essentially, “You knitters don’t own any part of the Olympics. The spirit and sense of community that you’ve been feeling is a delusion because WE own it, not you, so quit pretending that you have a place in this. In fact, we’re insulted that you’d even think you ever could”, throws cold water on the whole affair.
    No wonder so many people felt like dumping their support and boycotting the games. Changing a name is no big deal, what is a big deal is being told in no uncertain terms that you have no claim on something that you always felt some (admittedly weird, if you think about it) common ownership of. Sports have no inherent value to society. They are worthwhile because they inspire people, unite communities, celebrate our values (hard work, self-sacrifice, fairness). But look closely, and everywhere it seems rotten- cheating, doping, corruption, ruining children’s lives to turn them into gymnasts, and behind it all is money, money, and more money.
    I suspect that, for many knitters, this dust-up is really about that, about pulling back the curtain to show the ugliness behind the hype and hyperbole and hour after hour of teary athletes flogging their soppy “Olympic dreams” sagas to reveal that it’s not about opportunity and hard work and community spirit at all. It’s like the feeling I had when Mr. Rogers told my three-year-old self that though I could see him, he couldn’t see or hear me. Why had he been asking questions and responding as though I had answered, then? In all the many years since, I have never gotten over the betrayal I felt at having been made to feel such a fool.
    The USOC would do well to be warned- burst the bubble of vicarious participation at your peril. When people can’t identify with and feel some sense of ownership over athletes, they cease to care about them at all.

  196. Thank you, Steph, for taking the time to respond to this. It was very well written. Hopefully folks will take it to heart and calm down over this.

  197. I agree with everything, except the last point. I’m still very offended by the language of the letter. I don’t equate my knitting with the effort and achievement of an Olympic athlete, but even if what I can challenge myself to accomplish is only a faint echo of that, it is still a tribute, and not an insult. What level of effort must I put out to be “worthy” of claiming Olympic athletes as my inspiration? The USOC’s letter was narrow-minded and judgmental, the opposite of what the Olympics are supposed to be about. I just can’t think it’s right to ignore that.

  198. To me, it seems like the heart of this whole controversy really isn’t about trademark infringement and only partially about the snide, rude comments of the USOC. At its most fundamental level, it is about how the arts are viewed in society at large and the fact that many knitters are tired of it. Is my personal knitting habit at the Olympic level? Honestly, no. However, within our community there are individuals (Norah Gaughan popped in my head first) who have devoted their entire lives to being spectacularly, singularly good at what they do to a level that could be equated with the term “Olympic.” However, the arts are not valued in our culture to the extent that there is a televised competition every four years in which they could demonstrate their physical and creative prowess and be judged by a panel of experts (say, in the same way gymnastics or ice skating are). I think many of our most prominent knitters would be thrilled to receive a check from an organization that allowed them to focus exclusively on being the absolute best at their passion.
    The USOC has demonstrated remarkably clearly through their use of the word “denigrate” that they do not understand that these individuals exist within our community and they, like many other large institutions as well as single citizens, see little worth in our artistic endeavors. This is not say that Olympic athletes are not heroic, simply that there is an international bias which sees artistic creation as equivalent to “toilet-seat horseshoes” rather than winning the 100-yard dash. Frankly, that pisses me off. Personally, I’m kind of proud that knitters are in a huff and are refusing to be marginalized by the language of any institution. Suddenly, we are large enough and united enough to actually get some attention and refuse “to put knitting [as well as other artistic pursuits] in a corner.”
    However, boycotting the USOC doesn’t seem to be a particularly effective method of garnering greater value for our work. The USOC has seen our numbers and issued two apologies. It is probably fair to say that they get they screwed up. At a time when the arts are being rapidly removed from schools across many countries, I suggest that it would be better use of our energy to insist upon promoting the arts anyway we can. Volunteering to teach elementary kids to knit, donating to community theater programs, whatever. If we continue to adamantly insist on the importance of the arts and the heroic feats of those members of our community who are truly outstanding, perhaps over time the arts – and especially fiber arts – will start to get the respect they deserve. In the least, we should be able to get people to stop looking shocked when we take our knitting out at a party.

  199. “We’re not like them. Knitting something – no matter how amazing the something, isn’t the same as competing in the Olympics . . .”
    Those words of yours hurt my feelings more than anything the USOC has said in the C&D letter or subsequent statements. They don’t get knitters: you do.

  200. Well said as always Steph. Though I’m awfully curious – how is it that USOC owns the word ‘olympic’? Didn’t the Olympic games originate in Greece? And certainly the US isn’t the only country competing, we’ve all got our own Olympic committees and teams, officially using the word Olympic, and we all use the rings symbol no matter where the games are held – how far does USOC take it?

  201. Thanks Stephanie and many of the commenters.. we all need to look at issues from different perspectives to understand.
    I wasn’t participating in the ravelympics before, I’m still probably not going to, because i’m not into it, that doesn’t mean that I don’t want other people to enjoy them. I hope that regardless of what they are called.. I hope you have fun.
    Also, i agree with em at 8:49. thanks and stay classy!

  202. Very well said, Stephanie.
    Many years ago, groups working with senior citizens wanted to do Olympics-style events for seniors. They were told that the word Olympics could not be used in the name, therefore, most states have Senior Games. A few of the events are serious, although not as strenuous as the ‘real’ Olympics, and winners in the states can compete in the nationals. However many of the games are just for fun – to keep older people moving. Some people were very upset about that at the time, too, but I think they’ve gotten over it.
    I won’t be watching the Olympics, but it’s not that I’m boycotting them – I simply don’t watch TV.
    Adele

  203. I must add my voice to the minority who don’t agree. Your Sock Summit example compares two different situations (same wording vs. a variation), the apology was one of those worthless “non-apology apologies” (“I’m sorry your feelings were hurt” instead of “I made a mistake”), and so-called “amateur” athletes (if someone is paying for you to perform a task, you’re not an amateur) are no more deserving of my respect than my fellow knitters.
    That said, I love your work and am confident that the knitting world (unlike the world of commercial sports) will remain a welcoming, broad-minded place with room for all.

  204. I had no idea there was such a huge stooshie (uproar/fight in Scots) going on. I am once again enlightened and educated.

  205. Who said ” a rose by any other name is still a rose”?
    Come all you knitters, why sweat the small stuff. Just knit something wonderful and you’ll feel so much better.
    We are not Olympic athletes, we are not all trying to be the best in the world, we are just trying to make the world a better, more knitterly place.

  206. Ok, full disclosure: I am a lawyer, and I have in fact successfully sued, on behalf of a corporate behemoth that everyone would recognize, a small mom & pop operation that was infringing on the trademarked name. (As an aside, yes, the term “lympics” could be considered a trademarked term, even though it is not “Olympics”). Stephanie is right pointing out that, if a trademark owner does not police its mark, every single time, it runs the risk of losing its exclusive right to use it. It may seem arbitrary, but that is just the way it is.
    What I think is positive, actually, is the fact that USOC is even paying attention to Ravelry is a testament to how strong a presence Ravelry is. Also, let’s think about this from the flip side. Now that Ravelry is such a prominent cultural force, imagine how Ravelers (not to mention Jess and Casey) would feel if, say, an enterprising knitter and sports fan opened up the “Ravelry Sports Bar,” even if she had the best intentions of promoting both sports and Ravelry, and hoped that tons of knitters would come and knit in her bar while they watched the game on TV. That feels like someone might be trying to cash in on the hard work that Jess and Casey have put into Ravelry. A lot of knitters might think that wasn’t fair, even if the entrepreneur’s intentions were good. Now that Ravelry is such a cultural and corporate force, it should accept that it needs to play by the rules that everyone else must live by. It’s a good thing.

  207. I think Kay over at MDK said it best when she said this is deserving of mockery for silliness and carelessness. That and then turning the whole thing over to Stephen Colbert was brilliant.

  208. “The Knit Challenge formerly known as Ravelympics”
    If Prince can do it, so can we.

  209. In the craziness that is the wrapping up of the school year, I have missed all of this. Now that we have sent the kids on their way, and packed up the school, I see that there is an uproar in the fiber community, and that you have addressed it brilliantly. YOU are the classiest lady I know.. thank you for this reminder that in the end, we all need to rise above the pettiness.

  210. Well said. I’ve been trying to say much the same thing on Facebook and Ravelry… It’s ridiculous that people were posting nasty grams on the page of the US Olympic Team, as the athletes had nothing to do with this. I was rather embarrassed to hear of this type of behaviour.
    I agree that the letter was poorly-worded, and I think that most of us took this hard since we probably consider our craft to be our highest personal achievements. We’re not going to stand on a podium and hear our national anthems play while the world watches. However, we KNIT, and we like to think we do it darn well. We might not be able to swim like a dolphin and set world records, but I bet that Micheal Phelps can’t knit a lace shawl. It hurt to have someone put our achievements down, and say that our best is essentially diddly squat.
    Yes, it was condescending, but boycotting the Olympics does nothing but deprive our athletes of support. Stay classy, indeed.

  211. This was so well written. It’s one of the reasons I love reading your blog.

  212. Nicely put Stephanie. We are knitters. We can rise above the ugliness to show our beauty.
    Well written!
    Peace and love,
    Amy

  213. The C&D makes sense. They have to protect their trademark. But since they obviously paid Kenneth the intern to join Rav & peruse it, would it have killed them to write a halfway civil letter, soemthing like ‘we appreciate your spirit, but we must ask you to change the name, as we have these words copyrighted?’
    And then, after the faux apology, then they ask for handmade stuff. Please! Really? Fail upon fail. Whatever. I’m going to go knit now. Love to you Steph, and all yarn lovers on Rav and off. 🙂

  214. oh…bless you. I’ve been done in by all the facebooking over this and barely read any posts on Ravelry because the reactions have been so… extreme. Perspective. It’s very important, otherwise we go through life like we’re 2″ away from the Seurat and we never see the whole picture….

  215. This brings to mind last autumn’s fuss over the Legion, the bakery, and the poppy-shaped cookies. I don’t know what the tone of the Legion’s letter was, but from what I recall, the press coverage at the time made it clear that they had no choice but to defend their trademark lest it go the way of hoover.
    I reserve the right to disagree, however, with the implication that elite sports is inherently more worthy than any other recreational activity that doesn’t infringe other people’s basic rights. IMHO, elite-level athletic abilities, although potentially demonstrating useful skills and good genes in our hunter-gatherer days, are hobbies at present, just like any other hobby. Some people get paid to play soccer, some people get paid to knit, most soccer players and knitters actually spend money to pursue their hobby. Both hobbies can improve health in moderation, both can cause injuries either in excess or just with bad luck.
    If people enjoy athletic competition, then they have every right to pursue that hobby and get paid for it if they can find someone willing to pay them, but they don’t have the right to feel better than me, any more than I have the right to feel superior because my hobby actually produces clothing on occasion. I don’t have to knit in order to keep my family from freezing to death any more than a North American marathon runner has to run a deer to exhaustion on a regular basis to keep his/her family from starving to death, so neither hobby is inherently better than the other.
    Does somebody have “Bible” trademarked? Just curious…

  216. Sheesh what a batsh*t day, eh?
    I’m glad that there are those of us who can call the rest of us back to reason.
    I also admit to being a little too preoccupied with the Kleenex textile art thingy.
    It’s been a hell of a day, and I agree with what you wrote. I find it sad, I admit, but then again (horrors) it is a slippery slope. What if some hateful organization wanted to have their own –lympics of some sort. Smack-babies-with-fishies-lympics? They have a right to defend what they see as an ancient, hallowed organization.
    I hope tempers will cool. Knit on!

  217. “Denigrate” was undeniably a poor choice of word, and is not even the correct term as I understand it. You have explained the trademark issue in a lucid and accurate manner, and I hope everyone on Ravelry can take a few minutes (or hours, or days, if that’s what it takes) of knitting or crocheting and look at this more calmly. The. USOC has to protect its intellectual property in order to support the elite US athletes. That is clearly more important than the name Ravelry gives to its events which coincide with the 2012 Olympics.

  218. You are so smart! Thank you for this post. It really puts things into perspective. And you are absolutely right that knitting really isn’t anything like being an elite athlete. (I think the comments here are much more sane than the ones on the apology statement from the USOC!)
    And while I cringe to say it, knitters often ignore/flaunt copyright laws. It’s a concept some have to come around to.

  219. Haha! You are such a smart brave lady to be a voice of reason to millions of batsh@t insane knitters!
    Well written!!!! Wonderfully thought out! High five!

  220. Very well said; as always. Thanks Stephanie. After all; we wouldn’t want a copyright of our own violated…

  221. Love me some Harlot. Thanks for taking the time to write such a great post that puts the whole thing in the proper perspective.

  222. Perfectly put.
    You explained the intellectual property aspects very clearly, and you’re not even an attorney.
    As someone above said, this was a letter written by a law student, copying from previous boilerplate cease & desist letters. And the amended apology makes it clear that the committee now understands that no disrespect to the athletes or the Olympic games was intended by Ravelry or the participants in Ravelympics.
    So now the responses to the original letter are akin to those psychological tests — that is, what is it about the letter, really, that is riling individuals up? Since I was never riled over it, I do see some folks explaining the origins of their ire . . . and it is understandable.
    But I do think it is now past time to get a grip and move forward and have fun knitting, crocheting, or whatever during the games.

  223. It’s just the names, after all. Nothing else has to change. Full disclosure: I’m on Ravelry. I knit, crochet, spin, cross stitch, needlepoint, weave, and very occasionally sew. I’m one of you, but I think the USOC did what they had to do.

  224. Thank you Stephanie. You gave many of us perspective and a calm head. I am ok with USOC’s revised apology and I think they realize the pain they caused. It’s time for us to all sit down with our fiber and needles/hooks and focus on what really matters, the love for our craft.

  225. thank you for leveling out the hysteria…I prefer to think of ‘them’ as muggles and be done with it….I was also thinking just the opposite of boycotting the games…I am going to REALLY COMMIT to a knitting project of OLYMPIC proportions and sit down with the damn games and knit til my fingers hurt…. take THAT olympic people who don’t get us…. thanks again, Mz Harlot, for putting it all into a perspective that makes sense to those of us that have knitted ourselves to their zen place and aren’t so batchit crazy about it all… keep calm and bring yarn

  226. Wow. I’ve been out of the loop for a couple of days. lol
    All I can say is this: When the Ringling Bros. circus went after the state of Utah for using “The Greatest Snow on Earth” as their slogan in the ’90’s, they were struck down . . . and even though they appealed all the way to the US Supreme Court, the Supreme Court denied Ringling Bros. even a hearing.
    So.
    The term “Ravelympics” is a whole lot more different from Olympics than the Utah slogan was from the RB’s slogan. It looks as though the case law is on the side of Ravelry. The question is whether Casey & Jess are feeling like standing their ground and going through the possible pain.
    I can totally see the problem with the logos . . . that’s licensed material. However, the name is pretty darn different.
    Here’s to hoping that this all turns out well . . .

  227. Well said. But I’m still T.O.d. I’m going to see what the athletes themselves think.

  228. KNITTERS..PLEASE!! This is the same, current, US Govt that has come after Catholics because Catholics don’t want to do what the govt says they have to do! Let’s remember who we are dealing with now. If you don’t do what this current govt says is correct, then you are wrong, no matter how right you may be. Remember…your rights, your fun, your money belong to them…period.
    What you think no longer matters. As far as they are concerned, they will just say “do what you are told and get over yourselves”.
    I am not suprised by their condescending view of anything that they cannot control. Knitters knit what they want to knit…the govt has no say over what is on your needles and, besides, to them, knitting is a waste of time. Knitting and knitters are not important to them…unless of course, you are making money.
    That WILL attract their attention.
    So…just understand dear American knitters! You are just another target for them to take aim at. Don’t think you will be the last. Just ask any Catholic bishop in this besiged country of ours. They know better than anyone what it is like to have a target on your back.
    Cast on…stay calm. This too shall pass.

  229. Thank you for the calm and intelligent explanation of the letter and our knitterly response. “Peace out Knitters. Stay Classy.” Indeed.

  230. They respect our craft, we respect their trademark. It’s fair. Yes, the apology wasn’t the mea culpa we might have hoped it would be, but I am content that honor has been satisfied. Time to pet yarn and make nice.

  231. The explanation of why elite athletes are different from (really, superior to) artists is not your best work. Indeed, it comes across as more than a little craven. Your worries shouldn’t overshadow your analysis.

  232. I’m an alumnae of Nebraska Wesleyan University – home of the Xtreme Rat Challenge, formerly known as the Rat Olympics. I know the power of the US Olympic Committee. Well said Stephanie.

  233. All this on only one glass of wine? I bow to you, ma’am!
    PS Does it ever feel like, just as you got your actual children all-growed-up-and-reasonable-like, you accidentally adopted a couple of million teenagers armed with pointy sticks?

  234. As a knitter and Olympic enthusiast I appreciate the knitters who spoke up about the wording of the c&d as well as the USOC’s apology for the poor choice of words when addressing Ravelry about trademark issues with the Ravelympics. I know legally the USOC must protect the US Olympic trademark and subsequent profits that benefit our Olympians, just maybe with a little more tact next time. However, I don’t think most knitters have ever thought to even compare their knitting prowess to the athletic feats of Olympic athletes. We know we are not Olympic athletes, but love the idea of feeling like we are competing in our own way while supporting our Olympians. If anything, the Ravelympics was our way of paying homage to the Games by creating a game of our own. The USOC’s c&d wording was harsh and unnecessary and their apology, while less than lavish, was sufficient. My biggest fear in all of this is that our American Olympic athletes will suffer the misguided wrath of Ravelympic retaliation. While I appreciate those who spoke up in regards to the poor choice of words by the USOC (we all need checks and balances), I agree that now is the time to put on big girl panties and accept the apology (or not) but most importantly move on. Sticks and stones, my fellow knitters. If Ravelry indeed must change the name let’s focus on what it might be changed to. Ravelympia, no? Oh, and one more thing… GO TEAM USA!!

  235. You know, many of your points I agree with.
    However… that degrading language is their standard Cease & Desist form letter. Standard. And we’re all well aware of how litigious they are about protecting their trademark. I understand- and agree- that they need to protect their trademark. I’ve understood the law for awhile, even if I think it’s silly.
    However, you seem to be focusing on the point that Knitters are upset because we’re butthurt something nasty was said about KNitting. For me, and many people I’ve spoken to- it wasn’t about the fact that it was rude to knitting/knitters. It was a document with degrading language, sent from the very pinnacle of excellence, kindness, and global spirit.
    That spiteful line was everything the Olympics shouldn’t be.
    The major, major issue was people complaining. “but it’s not standard!!!” because they are well aware that language is unacceptable. How many C&D letters have you seen that has that condescending tone?
    And then you read another C&D… from a year ago. http://lettersfromaway.wordpress.com/tag/redneck-olympics/
    WITH THE SAME EXACT WORDING. Their “Redneck Olympics” are so vastly different than our Ravelympics. A few notes: They charge admission, where we did not. They have physical events, outside, which if held at the same time as the Olympics, could detract from viewers. Very silly people may even think it’s endorsed by the Olympic Commission. I find that hard to believe, but every now and then I find someone who surprises me with their lack of knowledge. We encourage knitters to watch the actual games. We have been careful to use no logos, and I’m sure had someone pointed out to TPTB, they would have gently asked the offending trademarked patterns to be removed a long time ago.
    Now, we’ve established how different these are… the C&D. Posts the same. exact. language.
    It is the USOC’s standard C&D. I was upset at the slight. THey apologized not once, but twice. This appeases me, and I messaged the PR rep thanking him. This is legally the best we can hope for.
    My outstanding problem is the fact that for at least the past year, this language was deemed acceptable to send to every single person they mailed a C&D to. How many people have been offended in this manner? This is unacceptable, and certainly NOT part of the Olympic Spirit.
    By all means, defend your trademark. As people kindly but firmly to respect the Olympics and leave the trademarked name to be used for the athletes and sponsors who pay their way to these great games.
    But they don’t have to be a jerk about it, you know? Maybe they’re the ones who need to “stay classy”.
    And regardless of how I disagree with you on this?I still think you’re pretty cool.

  236. I think the request to change the name of the Ravelympics is petty, but, likely, legally valid (“The Ravelry Games” has a nice ring to it). The problem, as far as I was concerned, was the insulting, denigrating, language used, followed by that poor excuse for an apology. I also think that they did better with the second apology and that now is the time to call it a win and walk away.

  237. My ears always prick up when there is copyright infringement stuff run amok. I was young and near the bottom of the totem pole at work when I was tasked with the job of identifying trademark infringement in the surrounding shops of a very popular historic attraction… It was always considered the dreaded job by my co-workers. They got sullen looks, and yelled at, or even ignored when they identified offenders. I chose a different angle, and actually worked with the shopkeepers to show them why they were infringing, and how they could keep their pride and products with modifications. I never got the sullen stares or yelling. Not even screaming or kicking. I got thank you’d.
    I guess where I was heading with this is, copyrights are a big deal, protecting any type of intellectual or physical property makes sense. But you can’t be callous or harsh or offensive to the party in question, 99% of the time it is an innocent infraction never meant to deceive, degrade or otherwise lessen the impact of the original copyright. The committee needs to take some lessons in tactfulness. Poor manners make bad PR.

  238. Well done! This is exactly why the community looks to you for leadership on these sorts of thing!!

  239. Thank you so much, Stephanie! I just love your cool head. Well done. I applaud you.
    Imageek

  240. As always, brilliant. It was never the trademark protection that bothered me. It was the words “denigrate” and “disrespect.” A bunch of people having a little fun while they are watching the Olympics don’t deserve to have those words directed at them. In fact, until the Ravelympics came along, I just avoided the Olympics all together (sports….ick!). But I have learned – through the Ravelympics – about the artistry and planning that go into the opening and closing ceremonies and how they express the meaning of the Olympics and the national pride of the host country. (BTW, Vancouver really did have the best opening ceremonies.) Words DO hurt sometimes, and the USOC chose some really hurtful ones. Saying please would have gone a long way.

  241. even though i doubt you’ll read/respond, i must say you convinced me. i didn’t realize at all that business about copyright. it explained why they even bothered to ‘come after ravelry’, which was the real thing i was pissed about. i was all, “haven’t they got better things to do?”
    the only thing i’m still pondering is your line: “at what point do we start to look like we’re saying, ‘We don’t want to play by the rules. We’re knitters, and there’s enough of us that if we don’t get our way, or if you hurt our feelings or don’t talk to us the way we like it – we might get ugly.'”
    that’s got me wondering. i mean, isn’t that how things change? get enough people who don’t like something (whatever it may be), they complain about it enough, and hopefully it changes. perhaps if all we’re doing is pouting, whining, complaining, etc. then we’re just throwing a tantrum. but at what point does something become a call to action? when are we actually protesting something? demanding change? do we have a ethical obligation to disobey rules we think are wrong?
    maybe we are just whining. but maybe not. i’m not sure yet.
    (ps i never participated in the ravelympics. i’m a knitting olympics purist. winter only. so please don’t let this deter you from doing them in two years!)

  242. While I could not articulate my reasons, your reasons are the reason I did not post anything or comment on any of the other blogs exclaiming about how horribly we were treated. Life is too short and knitting is just one part of it for me to complain and yell at an organization doing what the law and lawyers say they have to do.

  243. Beautifully put, well-thought and oh-so-accurate. You deserve a gold medal in class!

  244. How about our own event in the Olympics? They add new events all the time. When my daughter was in high school she performed as a syncronized swimmer – she couldn’t compete in the Olympics as there was no such event at that time. Now there is —
    Anyway – I don’t think anyone would compete against you in the speed knitting category!

  245. Eloquent and well stated as always. Your research and your thoughtful comments make us realize that we need to keep things in perspective. Could things have been said/done in a better way? Perhaps. But at the end of the day, we’re not talking about unemployment, lack of healthcare, bullying, or any of a number of other really important issues that could use our focus and energy. Thank you for helping people keep things in perspective.

  246. Another thank you to Em at 8:49 PM.
    I believe that the reaction to the USOC letter and the original attempt at an apology from Mr. Sandusky was simply visceral.
    I appreciate the calm response, Stephanie. I’ve had that conversation with myself all afternoon. Then I did finally add my comment on the USOC page that their handling of the situation was an embarrassment to me as a US citizen.
    Of all the organizations in the world and all its members who would have a deep respect for copyrighted intellectual property, Ravelry and its members would have understood and accepted a respectful request to change the Ravelympics name and remove any Olympic named patterns. But instead of asking, they chose to bully with words.
    Someone made a mistake, perhaps it will be a brief wake-up. By the way, I took some time to read comments and the only real threat I saw was the wish that his sweaters get moths and there be holes in his socks.
    Now it’s time to oil the wheel and get ready for Tour de Fleece (hope that name stays the same) and then flex the needles for the …Ravelry Games?.

  247. I believe I understand what you are saying and that I agree with it. It makes me sad to think of bad knitting juju being flung at the USOC.
    However, I wonder if your characterization of the USOC is a bit generous? They aren’t a fuzzy little start-up. They have an annual budget in excess of $150 million and a CEO that makes a million a year. Plus, they get special deals not available to other countries, including a large cut of INTERNATIONAL Olympic Committee sponsorship money (source: http://3wiresports.com/2012/05/13/usocs-major-growth-opportunity/).
    Though I am not affected enough to threaten to boycott anything, I understand and agree with folks who are upset. It feels very much like something that should belong to everyone – an Olympic spirit of community and achievement – is being corrupted by a few powerfully rich bullies.
    Do you remember about 12-15 years ago when ‘Ode to Joy’ was sung on six continents all at the same time? Thinking about that still gives me shivers! But more recently, my image of the Olympics, is mostly corporate sponsors and icky politics that have nothing to do with international community or peace. It is upsetting to have this shattered ideal intrude even further into my vision of the Olympics through this incident.

  248. I 99% agree you with you dear YarnHarlot. I just wish that the USOC would have looked at this as an opportunity rather than a problem. The point of the Olympics is to bring out the very best in athletes. The point of your very first knitting Olympics was to bring out the best in all of us knitters. And that was good and noble and, frankly, on days when I am feeling less than optimistic I used to go back to that blog post to remind myself that I am capable of doing something better. I have learned that lesson well and now I can just do it! (I work with people with really serious challenges so inspiration is a very important part of my day.) I sent the leaders at Ravelry suggesting that they simply change the name to the knitolympics (that takes the commercial portion out of it) and then suggested that they contact one of the larger sponsors and encourage them to create an ad campaign focused on “what are you doing while you’re watching”. Imagine if citibank had a whole series of ads during the games that inspired us all to do just a little bit better at the things we are already good at–and watch the olympics while we do it. Might just use commerce to make the world a little bit better for a few summer days.
    Knit on.

  249. I agree with everything you wrote and just have this to add:
    Beyond Ravelry calling their Ravelympics anything else, it seems to me that the easiest solution would be for Ravelry to become a sponsor of the USOC. Then they could use the name/logo for their own purposes. But while I’ve heard of legitimate sponsorships of other companies brought up(Pampers, anyone?) as being less flattering than the Ravelympics, I’ve heard absolutely no one suggest that we show take this channel to legally call this thing we love exactly what it’s always been called. I think that’s probably because we don’t want to have to pay any money to participate in the Ravelympics & boycotting doesn’t cost a dime.
    I also want to thank you for having the idea of combining Olympics & knitting in the first place because it’s been a lot of fun & it will continue to be in whatever incarnation it takes on from here. This summer, while I’m watching my fellow citizens strive to be the best humanity can be (& get a little glory for our country!), I’ll be cheering them on, needles raised in respect. Keep calm & knit on.

  250. Thank you for taking the time to write an insightful post that helps to bring the whole situation back into balance.

  251. Thank you, Stephanie, for a wonderfully worded post. I have been watching my facebook explode with the OUTRAGE and have been sitting here thinking, eh.
    Like you said, their wording may not have been sensitive, but they have a good point, they have a legal standing, and it’s not really a big deal.
    <3

  252. Thanks Stephanie, I know how hard this was for you (and the whole U.S. not Canadian thing). But, as usual, your research, deep breaths, and being a genuinely good person, prevailed. (hmm, everything a fine knitter is)! Very Classy.

  253. I have read about half the 300-plus comments, and I am curious. If this has been answered, I apologize for not having found it.
    I’m a little concerned for the law school intern who punched up the C&D letter. This is certainly a “teachable moment” and with good grace, perhaps he has learned something that will stay with him. I hope he hasn’t lost his job over this, because that would be teaching the wrong lesson.
    May I suggest that, because we are caring, loving and forgiving knitters, who understand that people make mistakes in haste (who among us hasn’t had to rip something out?), that we send some positive thoughts to the intern?
    One commenter wrote that this mistake will follow him for the rest of his career. It shouldn’t. I forgive him his youthful zeal. I wouldn’t want one act to define my whole life – and I don’t wish that on anyone else.

  254. just a small voice saying thank you for all you do for all you impact. we love you

  255. Although I didn’t feel that this issue was the end of the world or that knitters have been insulted, I’m still not sure I agree with your reasoning, Steph.
    Legally, at least in the US, parody is protected under free speech. And that is what the Ravelympics are – a parody. The humorous intent of “afghan marathon,” “scarf hockey,” etc., points to that. Your analogy with the smaller Sock Summit doesn’t hold up – that wasn’t parody, it was imitation. Legally speaking, Ravelry had a good case that the USOC was wrong.

  256. Yay! Well said. Thank you for taking the night to breathe and to point out the tempest in the teapot and to calm it down a bit…with luck, completely.

  257. I agree completely with suburbancorrespondent. Parody is protected.
    And, fwiw, here’s the link I forgot to add to my above comment referencing the Ringling Brothers’ failure to even have their appeal heard by the US Supreme Court:
    http://www.deseretnews.com/article/721161/Greatest-snow-wins-a-great-victory.html
    To sum up: USOC has ground on the logo portion of their claim. On the name bit, though? Not a leg to stand on. (IMHO, and IANAL.) (I Am Not A Lawyer)

  258. Let’s just call it “The Ravelry Games,” service mark the snot out of it and be done with it.
    Then send them hat designs for the winter games.

  259. I respect your opinion, and I totally agree with the issue of copyright protection (even if I think that they are carrying it too far in the PNW). I wondered when the USOC was going to get around to putting its foot down. But (and there always has to be one, it seems)…
    I have to disagree wholeheartedly about accepting the condescending apologies. As some on Twitter have pointed out, it’s too much like your boyfriend saying “I’m sorry you got upset about what I said. If it’ll make you feel better, you can give me one of your little arts and crafts projects, honey.” It smacks of being told to sit down and shut up, and quit bothering important people with your silly (probably female) opinions.
    I think people are tired of being told that they aren’t important, and that they can’t do anything about how they’re treated (banks, governments, environmental polluters, insurance companies, etc.) So I’m actually glad that enough people stood up together and got our point across to a big, powerful corporation. (Sorry, not buying the “non-profit” thing as long as they act like any other corporate bully.) I just wish I believed that it actually made a difference. Not enough impact to their bottom line for them to care, unfortunately.
    I was fully prepared to ignore both ‘lympics again this year, but one of the members of my weekly Knitting Group was so excited about participating that I agreed to join her Team. I had been looking forward to the community spirit, the challenge (50-inch cotton pullover, completed and worn by Closing Ceremonies) and the inspiration. Now I’m planning to go back to the regular Ravelry KAL’s instead, ones that believe in being inclusive and supportive of everyone, not just the ones on the screen wearing a corporate logo.
    And no, I won’t be sending any of my little crafts to the USOC.

  260. No – think of all of the people that have been bullied by this treatment. People that have had the name Olympic in their business name from before the congress lost their mind and allowed this nonsense. None the less, it is within their rights to defend their trademarks as granted but there is no reason whatsoever to denigrate those whom they see fit to take to task. This is not proper behavior for an organization that is tasked with being the face of the olympics – oh, sorry what was I thinking. The new olympic tradition is only about sponsors and protecting income streams. Too bad this behavior is not endemic in all countries that have had the games in recent history and in the future – it appears to be an absolute requirement of the IOC to even be in consideration let alone to be chosen as a host country.I am sorry for the athletes that have to try and ignore the crap and compete to their utmost.

  261. I am totally for them protecting their trademark — I get that. As someone who hopes one day to have some original patterns out there for knitters, I, too, would like that protected.
    That being said:
    The original letter could have been worded MUCH better…
    The first “apology” only made a bad situation worse…
    Perhaps the USOC should consider getting a new Legal & PR staff, as these seem to be having a little trouble _properly_ doing their jobs.

  262. Well put,Steph. You deserve the gold medal for your silver tongue. Thank you

  263. Thank goodness for your excellent common sense and fairness. Mass hysteria is hard to deal with. Your saner head prevailed. Now if everyone could just calm down and see that they are artists and their work, though it involves physical effort, is true art. No bones about it!

  264. When I read your post about the knitting community getting upset about having to change the name to avoid USOC trademark infringement, three words popped into my head. “First-world problems.” Thanks for the great explanation.

  265. Thank bobdamn that someone else is saying this as well. I thought I was alone, sitting in the back of the living room watching everyone get really angry. I mean, I felt a little pissy pursuing a course of action rooted in money, but now that I know they use that $ to send athletes to the Olympics, and that if they don’t defend themselves they won’t be able to in the future–I feel a lot better about that. And I was grouchy too about their word choice, but the truth of the matter is that knitting is *not* a sport, and we are *not* athletes just because we knit.
    so, bravo for saying something rational in the face of all the pressure being thrown at you.

  266. A truly excellent explanation–thank you for again sharing your thoughtful, fair, and generous perspective. This is why so many people wanted to hear your thoughts!
    Thank you!!

  267. I always appreciate reason. I appreciate a logical argument and am very happy to agree. Thank you.

  268. I know it took you a lot of time that you probably didn’t have to craft that response and It was good! Thank you.

  269. I don’t agree with US Trademark law but I understand why the USOC wants to protect its trademark, and I’m happy to support our athletes. I am a lot less thrilled with the gratuitous dig at the various knitting events, and the disingenuous claim that they had sent a “standard cease-and-desist letter” when clearly, that language was NOT standard. It’s not that my feelings are hurt, because goodness, I would never compare my knitting to Olympic-caliber sports, but then again, is that really what the USOC thought that anyone on Ravelry was DOING?
    Actually, I have suspect that bit of being a failed attempt at humor, which also seems out of place for the purpose. If the legal folks at USOC are going to deviate from boilerplate, they should have erred on the side of being amused by the events and regretful that, Ravelry as a community having convinced a bunch of people to sit watching TV while knitting in JULY, it’s still necessary to change the name of what is, in the end, a massive online viewing party.
    As an aside, you might have wanted to link to your own history with the Ravelympics, the expansion of the event into the summer, etc. You aren’t precisely a disinterested party here, right?

  270. Perhaps we just need to knit them some comfy socks……at least so they can appreciate our dedication. Legal stuff in cruddy store bought socks must really pinch. The “high road” it is! Lead on, us people with pointy sticks are right beside you!

  271. I read a lot, but rarely comment. Thanks. Thanks for thinking it through enough to give those of us with hurt feelings an outlet for understanding. Its hard not to want to throw down the socks and yell a little bit. At least now, I can yell about the right thing.
    At least this isn’t as bad as the vagina thing….

  272. You are so articulate. Thank you for all the work you put into this. It is very good to see such a well thought out and reasoned response.

  273. Thank you Stephanie! I had not heard about this until just now, and have not read the letter. But I appreciate your voice of reason. Personally, I enjoy the Olympics—it’s such a great way to carve out knitting time too!

  274. thanks for putting this in perspective. i just want to add- i lve in colorado springs, and if you think this is the only thing that the USOC is completely odd about, well… just try living in the same city. 😛

  275. You have proved once again to be a really smart rational gal and make me proud to be a knitter.

  276. While I appreciate the apology, and I now understand copy right laws a lot more than I ever did before, it still stings a bit. I am not a big believer in the Olympics, there have been too many allegations of under aged contestants, judges being bought off and steroid use. So, I’m not going to be watching the Olympic Games this year but, that’s really no different from any other year. I will, instead, be knitting while the T.V. is off.

  277. Geeeez….I guess it’s NOT such a good idea to upset people who carry ‘pointy’ objects in their hands…LOL!!! “Bravo” Stephanie…leave it to a cool head to prevail…you ooze ‘class’!!….(:

  278. Loved this rational perspective — I’m glad you decided to pipe up. Thank you!

  279. Thanks, I think, for telling us that we are not really worth much after all.
    What is it that makes athletes so much worthier than anybody else who tries their utmost to be the best that they could ever be? And I am not talking about Kleenex eaters: the only reason for ever eating Kleenex, according to some models, is to have them making you feel sick to you stomach for days on end so you won’t be tempted to eat and gain weight before a big photo shoot. I am talking about mothers, artists, regular people who undertake something and feel inspired y the Olympic spirit to go beyond what they ever imagined they could do. You are doing your big ride, some people run 5k, some again knit the most fantastic piece they can while encouraging the athletes who have trained (because that happens to be what they do) to reach the greatest heights in those games that happen every four years.
    Too bad not everyone has athletic abilities. Too bad some of us have taught — and are still teaching — our children to try even harder, too bad we are not athletes who have trained for and reached that spot on the national team (of course, those who have not made it on the team are less worthy). Too bad, really, that those things are all we can do.
    Thank you, Stephanie, for condescendingly setting us straight.

  280. May I hastily add, I meant “what STEPH said.”
    I was not agreeing with the post before mine.
    Thank you.

  281. Thank you, Stephanie, for this cogent and moderate response. I learned something – I had no idea that Ravelry is a for-profit enterprise. I am not wild about trademark law – too often, it is used to protect large corporate concerns, rather than individual/small business users (as in the ‘Sock Summit’ example you provided). However, the law is the law, and what I think about it is irrelevant.
    My mother, who died in September, was an actual Olympian (US diving team, Helsinki, 1952). Like every other member of the US Olympic team (and that of every country except for the Soviet Union, which had just started competing in 1948), she trained part-time and had to find her own funding (in her case, a local department store sponsored her). She was a full-time student who practiced after school; that year’s men’s diving champion was a military physician, I believe. Mom continually decried the professionalization of the Olympic Games, but that never stopped her from being awed by the achievements she watched religiously every four, and later two, years.
    I think while she would have thought the USOC’s letter was overkill and unnecessarily snarky, she would have been equally dismissive of the reaction of knitters (although she would have thought the whole idea of the Ravelympics was fun). I can hear her now, saying that the USOC had no choice, since their mission is to provide financial and training support to athletes who require unimaginable resources to compete at the top level, and that an athlete coming from a working or middle class family (like hers) would never have an opportunity to compete otherwise.
    Sorry for the long post – it’s not often I get to talk about my mom’s Olympic past and knitting and trademark law all at the same time!

  282. I can not say that I entirely agree.
    As many others have already said, the trademark and name problems are understandable. The apologies that were issued were appreciated and recognizing of wrong-doing. However, the lack of respect for a group of people with a common interest is concerning and should be addressed. From this blog post, it seems as though you are resigning the crafting community to complacency. It was Albert Einstein who said “I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.” Unfortunately, not everyone is as compassionate as Einstein and respect must be earned. You are in a unique position of power and influence in the Ravelry community. Many people take your opinion as a guidebook of sorts. It would be a shame to navigate your followers away from pride; whether it be in their hobby or in themselves.
    That being said, I, for one, find myself very proud to be apart of the Ravelry community today. So many people exuding passion and standing up for what they believe is, and should be viewed as, inspiring.

  283. In their apology they stated they would “welcome any handmade items that you would like to create to travel with, and motivate, our team at the 2012 Games.” I say as our retaliation move we should send so many handmade items that they would not only realize why we call it the Ravelympics, but also all the team members of team USA will be covered with our hand knitted goods to be viewed by the rest of the world. It’s peaceful, we’re still supporting the team members while also sending a big “Suck it” to the USOC. 🙂

  284. Many, many thanks to em@8:49, Anna@9:01, Lokismom@9:03, KTCL@9:34 and Suzie@1:05 — you’ve said just about everything I wanted to say.
    Stephanie, I was with you all the way to the last few paragraphs. From there, we’ll have to agree to disagree.

  285. Steph, I am in awe of your careful and thoughtful use of the power you have. For good. That is one heck of a post; thank you for taking so much time and effort (away from your knitting) to compose it. Keep breathing!

  286. Another thing to add, I actually think this has been a positive experience overall. As has already been laid out, USOC, IOC, etc, have a history of using bullying tactics to get their way. Knitters are in a somewhat rare position to stand up to them.
    We’re numerous (far more numerous than most people think).
    We’re tech savvy (ditto).
    We’re non-threatening. By this I mean we’re not 4chan, etc. We can’t just be dismissed as internet trolls and therefore not worthy of response. We’re nice, harmless knitters. We’re your mum or your gran. Much as we object to the default old woman stereotype, it kinda works in our favour this time. People don’t think of knitters as a big tough group capable of looking out for ourselves, so when we do, we have the added clout of surprise and support.
    So if nothing else, we’ve been able to shed some light on the kind of things USOC have been up to. And we haven’t been ignored. And maybe this will make things a little easier on the smaller, more vulnerable groupes/businesses they go after next.

  287. Thank you for your kind post about the USOC controversy, Stephanie.
    I lived in Olympia, WA for a number of years. It happens to be near the Olympic Mountains. Every once in a while, the USOC would get bent out of shape by someone wanting to call their business Olympia Brewery (oh wait that is a real business) Olympic Plumbing and Heating, for instance, or Olympia Counseling Center. I suppose you are right, they have to defend their trademark and logo.
    What I still don’t understand is why, since it is NOT called the RavOLYMPICS, just the ravelympics, they thought it was infringing. Do they really have a copyright on every syllable of their name?
    They were pretty insulting about knitting in the original letter, but then, I am used to that, having been a knitter for over 60 years.
    I agree with everything you said. You go, girl, uh, woman!

  288. Thanks for this. I admit I got a little worked up yesterday – mostly because of the condescending term, and because really? Ravelry is an international community (though US based) and the USOC has no right to decide how people in other countries use the word Olympic (which has been around MUCH longer than they have.) I still think their tone, and the tone of at least the first apology, were a bit out of line. I understand they’re doing their job, but they could have done it a little more graciously.
    But thank you for this clear and balanced post. People listen to you, and I hope they will calm down a little. The show of anger and retaliation from knitters is not doing us any good either.

  289. Bravo Steph! You seem to be the only rational adult here. Thank you for your sanity and for making me laugh outloud. What a reaction from the hinterlands!
    I am still looking forward to the Olympics and to “whatever-we-call-our-knitting during the Olympics” thing.

  290. Stephanie, you were brave to take this on. Your reasonable tone and excellent explanation of copyright laws does help to calm down some of the visceral reaction to the original letter. However, I do agree with the commentors about the gratuitous language trying to shame knitters for even considering a comparison to the Olympics (which no one was). It’s even more disconcerting to learn that the USOC has used the same language in other C&D correspondence and that this wasn’t a “one-off” by an over zealous intern. I think that “Wool Free and Lovin Knit” did a great job of expressing our opinions about that. Finally, I think the apologies were lame and insincere, but it’s best to move on and hope that the USOC learned the old lesson about honey and vinegar.
    On a separate note, to “B. Richman” at 9:58, I’d like to point out that the USOC has no connection to the United States government, so it is not fair to paint them with the same disdainful brush you use for our political leaders. Similarly, the current issues around the Catholic Church adhering to new labor laws does not compare to this situation and is completely irrelevant. Since there are multiple sides to this issue, it’s probably best that you don’t bring such things up in this forum, unless you want Stephanie to moderate another kind of dispute. Thanks.

  291. The Ravelry Games sounds too much like The Hunger Games. Ravelry will probably get another letter for that one.

  292. The USOC does not own the word olympic. The trademark only bestows ownership of a word or phrase within a certain context. I think the USOC is overreaching in this case and doubt their claim would hold up in court.

  293. Thank you for another one of your great, well written, thoughtfully reasoned and educational posts.

  294. Bravo! Well explained, kudos to you Stephanie! Let me take it a step further…as an embroidered, for example, I cannot copy or digitize, let’s say, Mickey Mouse. I cannot take their art, put it in my computer and then use it for profit. In fact, Disney has “spies” that occasionally go to craft shows and lurk….
    Instead of using a resemblance of someone else’s name, like the Olympics, let’s come up with our own name! We could have a “knitters race to the finish” or “knit-a-race”..it is just a name…the actual project can still take place…unless, some brothers and sisters in yarn are so upset that they are willing to give up purl and knit! And that, well, that would be just too painful to watch….
    Hugs, peace, knit..we knitters make the world a better place, we make tradition come alive, stitch, after stitch….let’s bond people….and become the best “artists” that we can be…LONG LIVE PURLING!!!!!

  295. Bravo! ( ( Standing ovation for Ms. Pearl-McPhee ) ) You deserve a gold medal for putting things in perspective for the worldwide community of fiber crafters.

  296. As a few commenters before me, I am with you until the last point. I did especially like the part about the need to defend your trademark all the time. I’d think that law should be changed, as it does not seem like a good idea at all, but I do not know enough about this.
    I do not think my feelings were hurt, I was a bit astonished how someone can think that if I knit in front of the telly, that will denigrate the US athletes( and only them, what about my native Germans?), while eating McDonalds hamburger would not.
    But in your analysis, you seem to think that athletes are a different and better class of talents than knitters. Different they are, but better I don’t believe. There are some things I can do a lot better than most other people, like finding bugs in software, but that does not mean that this talent is inherently better than another one. And no one using his or her talent is denigrating mine or my time and effort. I do not quite understand why there is a need at all to be competitive here. I thought the olympic spirit was “The important thing is not to win, but to take part”

  297. *comes out of lurkdom to stand and applaud a brilliantly thought out and executed post* x

  298. Thanks so much Stephanie. As other folk noted, I had had no idea that this issue had come up and I’m grateful to you for bringing it to my attention. This ‘commentroversie” has been a fabulous discussion and people have made so many excellent points. Esp. about the “denigrated” role of art and craft in our society especially when practiced by women. Thank you everyone.
    For myself, I am so so weary of the unquestioned collusion between the law and multi-national corporations to hijack language for profit in the name of so-called trademarking. I am even sadder that so many of us think this co-option is just fine. As far as I know, in most societies it’s always been considered a bad (&punishable) act to plagiarize or steal or misrepresent as yours something that was created by someone else- but IMHO this new practice of so-called trademarking has been carried to frivolous and dangerous lengths…. For example, Monsanto now apparently “owns” the neem tree in India and all people who grow or use the products of same must pay them tribute. USOC now apparently owns any possible variant of the word Olympic and anyone who uses it must pay them tribute. The University of Florida recently sued a high school for the use of the word “gators” which it claimed it owned (when associated with- ahem- sports). If you use the phrase “feel the fear and do it anyway” you’ll get sued by an author of a book with that title.
    So, I totally disagree with the notion that the USOC is justified in any way to prevent people from using the word Olympic without their express permission (and payment of tribute).
    But the law is the law although surely sometimes ” the law is a [sic] ass” (to quote Mr. Bumble from Charles Dickens).
    I do think the position of professional sports in our culture is outrageous (did you know, for example, Ferrari spent $500 million last year alone on its Formula One sports car program? Multiply that by the number of companies participating in just the Formula One Races and probably every child in the world could have a safe home, 3 meals a day, full time schooling, clean water and excellent medical care). Think what the money spent on the past five Olympics could have done for the world? Or at least, for the countries they were held in?
    So, while the language & responses from some knitters may be judged by some of us as extreme & full of twisty snarls, at least these knitters are standing up for all of us and crying foul when it should be said. To misquote Laurel Ulrich, “well-behaved knitters don’t make history.” Or NPR. Or Stephen Colbert.
    That said, I totally agree with you that ‘classy’ is the way to go. Not silent, though. Never when there’s a bully in the house.

  299. I don’t agree.
    First, the example of sock summit is not a good one. Both Sock Summits were about the same thing: knitting socks. Raverlympics and Olympics are about completely different things, no risk of confusion there and definitely no risk of losing sponsors.
    I understand trademarking the logo but the name olympics dating back to 8th century BC? I don’t get it. In some countries there are national school competitions called olympics, math olympics, history olympics. Should they change their names as well? Is “Games” going to be trademarked as well?
    What is denigrating the Olympic Games is McDonalds sponsoring the event.

  300. The voice of reason as always. I’m all up there with copyright and protecting it, but certainly not in that tone. But to get that second statement is something at least, and will hopefully teach them about respect and sensitivity for all, even groups they don’t know much about.
    And I agreee that it takes a whole lot of crazy physical and mental effort and a lifetime of commitment to be an olympic athlete, but I also feel that it’s not right to ever say that an Olympic athlete is “better” than a fibre artist who has also committed their whole life – time, effort, energy, personal life, to their art. All of life’s pursuits are important, we need sport, we need art, we need the sciences, we need philosophy, we need eccentric hobbies that don’t seem to achieve anything other than putting effort and dedication into something for its own sake. All of these have a part to play in keeping our humanity going, and they balance each other out.
    Don’t sell yourself short Steph, how long has it taken you to reach where you are, how many tears, how much agonising over your work, your family, your life…? An athlete’s peak may be anywhere between 16 – 40, and that’s just the way their activity is. Artists on the other hand need time and patience to reach their peaks, and that’s just how that activity works. I also think we should all remember that what makes the olympics (and other large scale events) somehow more special than anything else is that people around the world buy into it and support it. If there were no spectators there’d be no sponsors, and sadly no olympics. Likewise if no one was interested in knitting, or reading about knitting, or taking classes on knitting, well, you wouldn’t have gone down the route of making a living out of it and wouldn’t have dedicated a large part of your life to the fibre arts. But on the flip side if enough people were actually up for it, industry would sniff it out and there’d be an ACTUAL knitting olympics with sponsors and tv coverage and the works….
    Anyway, I guess I’m trying to say Copyright- Good, Being mean and putting less value on anyone else’s activities- Bad. It was all crazy yesterday, but I think we’ve all had a bit of time to think, to receive the responses from the USOC, to weigh up what the real issue was, to hear lots and lots of different opinions. So thank you for your wise words Steph. I may not agree with absolutely all of it, but everyone else may not absolutely agree with everything i’m saying – as you’ve showed us so often, that’s the beauty of being entitled to your own opinion and sharing it respectfully.
    So whatever name the ravelympics takes, let’s enjoy it!!

  301. Well said. I am from Downunder. It would be the same situation here.
    That said I do think USOC and other Olympic Committees should probably have made more effort to inform people about usage a long while back. Perhaps, for the next Olympics, USOC could officially involve some knitters – and even raise some money that way. Speed knitting contests perhaps? Something like that would help to involve many people. Perhaps a Ravelry group could take the idea to them?

  302. Thank you for a wonderful post, especially for recognizing that what the athletes do is very different than what knitters do. Knitters (and people in general) don’t generally make the lifestyle changes, which most folks think of as sacrifices, that these athletes make on a daily basis for years.

  303. I’ve read through a lot of the comments and i think a lot of what i feel has been stated, but i will add…
    firstly, while the USOC might own the word ‘Olympic’ in the US (and i’m pretty sure they actually don’t, just the logo and the word in context) they don’t own it globally and while i appreciate that Ravelry is a US company and therefore abides by US law, it is an international community and i find the whole thing completely disrespectful of that
    secondly, there are thousands of people who CAN do what the olympians do but never get a chance due to wealth, social class, other life-changing events, circumstance… also i don’t think equating being able to run really fast, which is a natural talent then honed, is the same as learning a craft or skill for decades. But i’m not going to get into my whole issue with the god-like status of athletes here (i’m from Australia. it’s even worse there). That being said i do highly admire what the olympic games stands for.
    which brings me to my third point, which is that this whole shebang is completely contrary to the WHOLE ETHOS OF THE OLYMPIC GAMES, which, in my understanding, is about unity, international relations and community spirit…

  304. Thank you for writing such a calm post. I like the way you take your position as a “voice” in the knitting community so seriously. 🙂
    That said… I don’t completely agree with what you’ve written, and I still have a few worries.
    I’m friends with a few Olympians, and while I don’t want to disturb them in the middle of trials to ask their opinions, I’m relatively certain they would be appalled to learn that the USOC had said that my personal knitting challenge, to be completed while watching the Olympics on TV, “denegrated” their efforts and the spirit of the Games. I just don’t feel that the language used in the C&D letter upheld or well-represented the Olympic ideals of “culture and education, tolerance and respect, world peace and harmony” that they claimed the Ravelympics destroyed.
    I also don’t think it’s fair of you to say that artists aren’t equal to athletes. After all, knitting a lace shawl isn’t hard once you get the hang of it, but then neither is running a hundred yards. What *is* hard is to do it well, to be the best at it. It might be more fair to say that most Ravelympic accomplishments are on the level of a local or regional match as there are only so many people who can be “best in the world.” Because the arts can be competitive too. You can practice an art for fun or personal enrichment, just like you can run in the mornings for health and well-being… or you can try to make a living as an artist, try to get your work recognized, admired, respected, published, exhibited, etc. Can you honestly tell me that the knitters/designers/editors that lead our community, the ones we all know and love, haven’t made sacrifices or worked hard for the passion that they pursue? As a performing artist (with an emphasis in dance), I can tell you I have been fighting this “artists aren’t as good as athletes” idea all my life, and it’s both demoralizing and exhausting.
    I also worry about the poor little intern and his future. At the same time, I wonder how much of the information in the letter he could have acquired without becoming a Ravelry member. I know there’s a lot a person can access without an account, but still… if he joined simply to gather more information, mightn’t that be a breech of Ravelry’s ToS?
    Ravelry is a private community… and the Ravelympics is sort of like an international block party. If the USOC went into a gated community and said, “I can’t help but notice you have a sign in your yard that says you’re holding an eat-olympic event wherein people cook their favorite healthy dishes and eat them while watching the Olympics – you’ll have to change the name because people might get confused and think you’re affiliated with the actual Olympic Games,” would they be able to make them change the name? Would the USOC even care about trying to make them change the name?
    I realize that Ravelry is much bigger than a gated community, and that it is a for-profit organization, but they are not directly making money from the Ravelympics… they are not selling t-shirts or buttons or bags with the Olympic symbol or the word “Ravelympics” on it. They are basically just putting out electronic “posters” and “flyers” for members of the community who are organizing an event. I really don’t think that’s the same as your Sock Summit example…
    I think I’ll stop writing now, because I’m very sleepy and I’m afraid I’ve stopped making sense… but I’d like to say thank you one more time before I go for saying what you said and for leading the way to constructive dialogue. 🙂

  305. Very well said and explained! Thank you for doing your homework and explaining how an organization in the US works and how it affects some of our citizens. Thanks, too, for spending some of your precious knitting time on all the research and writing! You are truly a “voice of reason”!

  306. Thank you for this post! I especially liked your point about Ravelery being a business, that is so easy for us to forget. I can understand they have to defend their trademark to keep making money from it (and thank you for pointing out where the money goes).
    If (and it still is if) the Ravelympics need a different name, it will still be a whole bunch of knitters having fun and strifing for a personal best.
    I still think the denigrate part is a bit hard to take. At least for myself I never though what I did during the KAL was in any way in the same league as what the athletes did, so I do not see how our event would decrease the value of theirs. After all if I do not like my result, I can rip it. Imaginge Usiah Bolt trying to do that with his 100m race.
    I fully intend to sit and knit and watch the events I would have watched anyway (not that many, I prefer the winter games) and hope a lot of knitters will too.

  307. The part that bugs me is that they’re claiming trademark infringement because of the “-mpics” suffix.
    To which I call bollocks.
    I can’t find it but I would like someone to point me to the law that says that “i” or “-book” or “-mplics” is actually trademark protected.
    I understand the need to defend one’s trademark but this does not pass the sniff test. This stinks, there is NO WAY that anyone would confuse the actual Olympics with Ravelrympics.

  308. I think, beyond feeling insulted at the tone of the letter, what struck me most was how foolish it was to potentially alienate a large community like Ravelry. Had they sent a a letter that confirmed what you said about having to ask for the name to be changed for legal reasons, and maybe offered up lovely images or something equally free as encouragement for the knitters competing, or perhaps just said something complimentary and encouraging in the C&D letter, none of this would have made such a stink. It was a foolish PR move, more than anything else. Insulting letter, badly drafted, 1.5 apologies not smoothly worded, and they have a nasty mark on their already troubled PR front. Would have taken anyone reasonable an hour, maybe less to draft a *nice* C&D letter, one that would take advantage of the free publicity the Ravelry games would have given them. Not worth as much of a stick as was made, but, perhaps, folks will learn a nice PR lesson?

  309. I’m so pleased with what you wrote, it was like what i was thinking was already written. Maybe you should encourage the UN to knit during their meetings…

  310. No one seriously thought that our knitting is equivalent to Olympic-level sport. As so many have already said, they objected to the heavy-hand nature of the response. Your characterization of the role of the USOC, however, is a bit naive. Is there a trademark issue? Yes. Should it apply to fans? The legal system here makes that necessary to preserve the trademark. But the nature of the USOC’s support for athletes has been criticized before, as has their skill at alienating the US public.

  311. You bring really salient facts and an interesting perspective to the discussion. However, this post and especially all the comments singing variations of “finally a rational/reasonable response!” basically tell those people who honestly and legitimately felt hurt/angry, for whichever part, and took the time to actually express that anger and hurt that they are irrational, hysterical, crazy, sensitive and embarrassing themselves/knitters. It hurts when a boyfriend or male w/authority (PR guy, for example) makes you feel that way, but when your fellow knitters treat you that way, it feels like an utter betrayal.
    Yes, there is perspective to be had, there are facts and other viewpoints to consider, there are tempers to cool, but to say that “your reaction is irrational” is *not* the way to treat your fellows.

  312. I think Olwyn at 3:50 probably summed up my feelings most clearly. (With the addendum of the frustration that the USOC obviously labors under the delusion that ours is the only country in the world.) Having said that, I would like to applaud wholeheartedly the demonstration that as a whole such a discussion can be carried on here in such a respectful manner.

  313. A major issue here, which I’m not sure is reflected in the comments, is that once again, women’s (largely) activities are belittled. If the target had been a bunch of men having a beer coaster tossing competition, even if there had been a cease-and-desist, it would not have had that tone.
    So once again, a small group of culturally deaf males have shot themselves in the foot, and I don’t think they should get any sympathy for it.
    One would also think that anything that encourages attention to the games, and perhaps encourages people to watch, and thereby increase their audience numbers and consequently what they can charge for advertising, would be at least partially welcome. But they’ve got their heads in the sand, or parked in some dark part of their anatomy, and they don’t get it.
    And BTW – search the web for ‘lympics’. Don’t accept that Google automatically searches for ‘olympics’ – click the link for the actual ‘lympics’ search – and see what you find. Are they after all these people too?
    Legally, they are 100% right to defend their logo and trademark. But they’ve done it poorly and actually hurt themselves. And if they go after similar activities, and especially with that attitude, they won’t be doing themselves any good in the larger scheme of things.
    P.S. I always watch the games, and I will this year. But the USOC still has its collective head up its butt(s).

  314. It’s not just in the US. Over here in England is a lady who dresses dolls in knitted clothes and sells them for charity. She has been stopped because she dared to embroider the Olympic rings and the words London 2012 on the front of a doll’s top. Massive over reaction but as Stephanie has pointed out the legal implications of not protecting your trsdemark I can see why it had to be done.
    It really doen’t matter what you call ‘knitting in front of the Olympics’ or indeed if you call it anything. Surely what matters is setting yourself a challenge and enjoying it. It will still happen.
    Oh, and in the UK a group of volunteer knitters are making cushions from British wool as gifts for the athletes. http://www.woolsack.org.uk

  315. Very well said, as usual. thank you for being so articulate and expressing what most knitters are thinking but can’t quite say. Knit on!

  316. All I know is I was really really excited to watch the Olympics while knitting my ridiculously complicated sweater, but this whole thing has killed my enthusiasm.

  317. Thanks for being sane. I have so much fatigue at righteous vitriol of all sorts.

  318. Thanks, Steph, for your calm and reasoned approach to this whole huge issue. When I first heard the flap at Ravelry, I wasn’t nearly as bothered as some of my fellow knitters — and then I wondered if I wasn’t being sensitive enough? While it sounds like fun, I don’t have time to take part in Rav games, so I never have. But I will still watch the Olympics this summer and enjoy it. As a writer, I know a few things about copyright, so as “not nice” as the original USOC letter was, I did get it.
    I’ll go back to my knitting now…

  319. I think you did a great job of clarifying things for us. I think the biggest problem with the whole mess is the language they used and the hurt feelings that ensued. Your explanation and rational words should go a good ways towards soothing some of the more upset among us. Rock on sister knitter!

  320. I knew it would be very worthwhile to hear your opinion! However, I do wonder what will happen to those mountains and parklands in Washington…
    It did remind me of a case where Sony International sued a middle-aged woman (Korean I think?) on Maryland’s eastern shore, whose name was Mrs Sony and who used her own personal last name on her business (which I think was Sony’s Seafood Market). Sony Intl said it violated their trademark that she was using her own name. Astonishingly, they won.

  321. This is one of the most well-reasoned, calm, educational, factual, rational, reasonable, and logical pieces I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I really wish I had the ability to take your approach with so many other issues I encounter. Thank you very much for all your thoughtfulness and excellent writing.
    I am certainly not an athlete, but I can appreciate that athletics and knitting are two very different things, like apples and oranges or chalk and cheese. I don’t think that anyone, including the USOC, has said knitting is inferior, lesser, or just plain stupid, only different. Vive la différence!

  322. I’n an attorney, in active practice. I also teach law students. That intern hopefully has learned a valuable letter about how one writes cease and desist letters. You take the emotion out, you don’t denigrate whatever the target is doing, you express the applicable law and the potential consequences. What the intern did was, at best, sloppy and unthinking. He basically cut and pasted a previously-sent letter without thinking through the facts applicable to this particular dispute.
    Would you want your lawyer to represent you with that very paltry level of attention to detail and lack of plain common sense? And shame on whoever was supervising him as well.

  323. Thank you! I missed all the hubbub and heard about this here first, and admit that a glass of wine would have been nice after my visceral reaction to the “denigrate” comment, but reading through this was a good substitute. And a cookie.

  324. 1. As a UK citizen, I don’t understand how the USOC can own the word Olympics – surely it belongs to the world.
    2. Have they forgotten that the original Olympics WAS cultural as well as physical. It included events such as poetry! I consider knitting at least as creative as poetry writing.

  325. I assume it is up to each country’s Olympic committee to watch out for infringements within it’s area of coverage. With the IOC as ‘top cover’. As Ravelry is hosted in the US it comes under the USOC’s area of concern. Some countries probably have more to worry about!

  326. Well said. I think we needed to hear all of that from someone we know REALLY understands us.

  327. Clearly, sympathetically, coherently and elegantly said, Stephanie. What we do is clever and difficult and beautiful, but can’t compare to the commitment, sacrifice, pain and hard work the athletes have endured to get to the Olympics.

  328. Great post! I know everyone’s gut reaction was to march to the USOC’s offices with torches, but take a deep breath, step back and stop. Protecting your brand is important,whether it’s your employer’s, your family business’ or your own personal image. That’s all they were doing.
    Knit on!

  329. So how about we concentrate on finding just the right name… Just place Ravelry in front of these possible choices and see how they sound
    Regatta, Rally, Competition, Field Day, Trials, Derby, Encounter, Games, Joust, Meet, Test, Tourney, Rencontre

  330. I agree with you about trademarks, and I didn’t think that it was the end of the world (although I agreed that things could have been worded more politely). But if the USOC has the American trademark for “Olympics”, then something is wrong. The rings, yes, that one is easy. And I approved of the letter pointing out that the timing of the Ravelympics made it clear that it was based on the modern Olympic games. But given the age of the original Olympics, that phrase should be open to everyone.
    Now, considering how broken patent law is, they may very well have legal ownership and therefore a legal need to defend the term “Olympics”. But that doesn’t make it right.

  331. Well said. Thank you. While the pitchforks need to be put down and we all need to move on at this point, I am glad they issued the second more genuine apology. There is no excuse for treating another with disrespect – referring to the language of the original C&D – and it is rather thrilling to see the power of social media has to combat bullying. At the same time, like you said, we need to stay classy and demonstrate the same respect we want to receive.

  332. Steph,
    WOW – I love your work. You use words to express yourself very well. Good thing you’re a writer, eh? You’ve taken this discussion back to the facts, which is where it needs to be. Issues get cloudy when emotions overtake it, and we would be better served as a knitting community to take a deep breath and think, instead of just reacting. You have said it best; for the sake of us all, I hope your words are heard. We don’t need to agree, but at least understand and not prove we can be uglier. THANK YOU!!

  333. Wow.
    Kudos to the Harlot for putting it so well.
    And I agree with Lynda the Guppy in the comments — I’ve also worked with lawyers for more years than I care to admit. Can’t tell you how many times some big-shot lawyer dude/dudette had a judge chew him/her a new one because he/she didn’t check the work before he put his/her signature to it — which means that the poor clerk was the one who suffered in the end.

  334. You know this is the first reasonable approach/reaction I’ve read to the whole issue.
    Now, don’t get me wrong. I was kinda freaking out at the thought that the Ravelmpics might have be cancelled, but that’s more because this was my first as a knitter, spinner, crocheter, and Raveler. It was a goal I was waiting for the last two years. A goal that I set to prove, that come hell or highwater, I’m not insane, that I can be better at anything I put my mind to.
    But I wasn’t attached to the name. I mean bugger it all…I never watched the Olympics and certainly wasn’t planning on watching it despite the Ravelmpics support of the event. A limited cable plan and a general detaste for television assurred that one.
    I can even understand the sentiment, buisness policy, and let’s face down right economics (a nice way of saying of possessing to greater or lesser amounts that sumpreme evil greed) behind the statement issued by the USOC.
    You know what kind of ticked me off more….the reaction of everyone involved.
    It’s kind of a relief to finally hear a voice of reason, a balanced approach, that takes a step back and looks at the big picture.
    So Thanks, and Peace Out!

  335. Yes, the voice of reason, and thank you for that, I really appreciate it … but, I think the key phrase in your reasoning is “We are artists”. So throw reason out the window there and get with the program. We “artists” are always being “sh*t” upon for not contributing properly right down to our little First Amendment toes. We are always being told what to do and what is legal to paint or photograph and what is not and while some of it protects us (copyright, another bottomless pit of misapprehension), a lot of it protects the slimebags of the world who cannot tell the difference between pornagraphy and art and presume to tell me how my creating something “less controversial” is essential to prevenitng moral bankruptcy (fat chance). Art is about controversy! I can’t go on. I need a martini at 7:30 am. Thanks for listening.

  336. Geezle….I missed this whole hornet’s nest as I was totally distracted and engrossed in trying to learn “Magic Loop” so I could make socks “2 at a time” for the first time during the Olympic games. As I believe I have sweated and mentally challenged myself to the level of an Olympic athlete, I’m no Olympic athlete.
    I’m looking forward to the games (both the athletic and knitting ones); to see the world coming together and getting along, if only for a very brief time, to witness amazing things happen.
    Great post Ms. Harlot.

  337. While I am still steaming (unnecessary rudeness does that to me) I can’t help but look at a lot of the comments here and think that now knitters are denigrating knitters, for having been upset by said rudeness. Folks who were just hours ago womaning the yarny barricades are now saying “oh, go put a sock in it and calm down” as if they weren’t even the teensiest bit put out and pissed off. I understand the legal issues and the rights of the USOC. I would never put myself in the same class as an Olympic athlete and to be fair, I really don’t think that is what other knitters were doing. The rhetoric got a little over-the-top, but no one seriously believes that knitting socks is the same as running a marathon (and yes, I have done that. Slowly, but I finished three times.) what I do lay claim to is the right to my own feelings, to being angry at being insulted, and to not having to apologize for that, or be belittled for it. So please, my fellow knitters, don’t get on your high hobby horses and pretend that you weren’t upset, because it just isn’t true.

  338. Very well said!!!
    I think it’s kinda cool that the Olympic committee even knows Revelry exists. 🙂

  339. Wow. That was all SO very well said. You are a genius with words, you really are!
    I agree with everything you said 100%. Couldn’t agree more.
    Thank you for taking the time to think this through and then to post this very thoughtful, excellent piece about it. I appreciate it very much. 🙂

  340. Steph-
    I’m mostly with you. Mostly.
    Protecting a trademark is important, and I can understand why they had to send A letter. However, the thing that has me upset is that I feel shoved out of the way. I’m not an athlete, and I never have been. I was awkward and clumsy all throughout school. As an adult, I regularly stumble while on the treadmill: I’m a goof. Because I wasn’t good at sports, I never paid much attention to them. I never learned how to appreciate the sense of triumph that even an onlooker feels when watching a human being push themselves to the very limit of what was thought possible. To experience that feeling, and then to add to it the pride felt when it was done representing one’s own country, is something that the Olympics gave to me. I feel a little like the USOC took it back.
    When I was in high school, the homecoming game was the biggest event of the year, and every sports team and club made a float to participate, Sure, the football players and cheerleaders were the main act, but the Future Farmers and Drama Club still turned out to be a part of the school spirit. If the school itself, not just the hulking football players but our own administrators, had said that drama kids couldn’t put the word ‘football’ on their t-shirts, i could have understood it, but to say that homecoming themed skits or homecoming themed competetions executed by those clumsy actors and artists was kind of an affront to the excellence of our football players….well, I would have felt pretty embarrassed and pushed aside.
    That’s how I think we all feel. I never claimed that I was good enough to be an athlete….but I certainly thought I was good enough to be a fan.

  341. Blessed are the peacemakers………..I don’t think that’s copyrighted.
    You mean so much to all of us, thanks Stephanie.

  342. I wasn’t particularly upset by the USOC’s actions, though I did find the tone of the letter insulting. I also find it hard to believe that ‘ympics’ is trademarked, but I’m not a lawyer. While I appreciate the explanation in your post, I agree with whoever said earlier that it’s a bit patronizing. Your point is correct, but I would have preferred to see it made without all the ‘keep breathing’…

  343. I agree with everything…mostly.
    Here’s my take. This is a purely legal issue regarding trademark, right? So why did that cease and desist letter need to be so *personal*? Why did it have to be so insulting? The truth is, it didn’t.
    That’s the only part of this that really horked me off, and I don’t think that they were justified in doing that. Plus, it is just stupid for them to go out of their way to insult two million potential viewers.
    The apology from USOC Chief Communications and Public Affairs Officer Patrick Sandusky said that this was a “standard” cease and desist letter, but I don’t believe that for a minute. I highly doubt that their “standard” cease and desist letters contain statements specifically intended to demean.
    It’s was needlessly rude and insulting, and I don’t get why they had to go there. There was no good reason to, and lots of good reasons not to.

  344. Preach. Exactly my thoughts. I actually find it all sort of silly now. After I go over the initial shock (and I admit anger), I’m over it.
    Heck, I even watched the US Olympic trials last night…while knitting 🙂

  345. Knitting is supposed to be fun and relaxing. Right? The Olympics, and sporting competitions in general, are the opposite. Both are admirable pursuits, and both are not for everyone. Each has representatives whose mouth is faster than their minds, and can say/write something insensitive to the other.
    Copyrights have to be guarded and defended, or they will become meaningless, even against unintentional imfringments that are designed to be more of an homage.
    Really, people, relax.

  346. I grinned at “Oh, man. You don’t want to hear what I have to say here” and knew that someone was going to finally be reasonable, someone knitters actually listen to, no less. I’m known as the reality check person among my friends, and I have said those same words so many times. I may also be known as the wet blanket, but I like to imagine that it is an exquisitely crafted blanket they’re referring to. 🙂 (and wet blankets are great for putting out flames, of course)
    Hang in there, and thank you for continuing to be reasonable and wise.

  347. To digress from the point a little…I have been reading through the new posts this morning and pondering what really makes an event Olympic. While I enjoy the event in the winter games, I often wonder how curling got to be an Olympic sport. It seems like a fun game to play (especially with a beer or two) but I have a hard time acknowledging it as an actual sport. No offense to curlers; I have no idea what your training looks like. It just fits into my category of competitive game, not sport (like golf).
    Paraphrasing another commenter, I suppose doing something, anything, to Olympic proportions is worthy of the name, even if it is not that interesting to most. We can continue to call our knitting efforts Olympic. As Americans it is our first amendment right. Knitters don’t need to be validated by people who may not understand our passion for the craft. Because it has value to us does not mean it has value to others, and really that is okay.
    I suppose what I am trying to say is that while being misunderstood is frustrating and ignorant words make blood boil, in the end they are just words. Actions speak louder. I really hope the consensus of the knitting community will be one of grace as we try to understand those who do not understand us. After all, while I love rooting for my home team, it is the all encompassing feeling of global unity and civility that I madly adore about the Olympics. Let’s harness that as we process the actions and reactions of the past few days.

  348. Well said! Knitters are classy people. Now let’s get thinking about a new name that will be all our (knitters) own. As an aside, any word on needing to change the name of the Tour de Fleece? Just stirring the pot.

  349. Thank you for being some kind of a voice of reason in all of this. I’ve been thinking the same things for days now, but have been a little scared to say it, I too, know not to piss of knitters.

  350. Great summation of the situation. I appreciate your sensitivity even though you are not American. Thanks for staying sane!!!

  351. I totally agree with everything in this post. I know it hurts to hear harsh words about knitters, but they did apologize for that. So I’m fine with it. However, based on what YH has mentioned regarding the obligations the USOC has, I have two questions:
    1. I’m sure some of you have heard of American parody/comedy/variety shows like SNL or the Daily Show or Colbert Report, right? Well, they use Trademarked words, forms of logos, etc…as comedic puns all the time. They use forms of them, that is…and you’re telling me they have to pay rights to using any form of those names/logos? I may be wrong but judging from the frequency that the Daily Show’s use of trademarked “things” as puns, that might get a bit expensive. Those are for-profit businesses just like Ravelry, with huge audiences. Just don’t see how that’s any different? Unless they really do pay royalties or have found some kind of loophole around it, then it’s a whole different story.
    2. In the blog post, YH mentions that the USOC has the obligation to defend the right to use of the name and logo, otherwise they may loose that right…well, not really but their argument is less strong in a way. In 2010 they wrote a letter to Ravelry to take down use of the Olympic logo, but no mention of use of the name. So doesn’t the USOC kind of loose that right of defense since they didn’t mention anything about the name 2 years ago, but now they have a problem with it?

  352. Steph, I agree with you 100%.
    As a matter of fact, I was always confused about “Ravelympics” — I wondered was it actually part of the Olympic umbrella of events or just something made up.
    I think there could be a better name, something less “clique-ey” and more descriptive.

  353. I just wanted to say that was very well put. Everyone just needs to breath and calm down 🙂

  354. Sanity! Well said.
    So they change the name to “Games” – big whoop.
    Also – what got lost in this for me – is the the point (when YOU – THE YARN HARLOT started this! – didn’t Ravelry copy YOU??) – was that the point was to WATCH and SUPPORT the Olympics! We’d just be knitting at the same time.
    I still remember your fair isle sweater – that came down to the wire during the winter Olympics – finished at a bar while the Canadians played hockey. It was fun! (remember fun??)

  355. “Breathe in, I’m a flower” (in your mind smell the roses), “exhale and I’m a butterfly” (in your mind watch the butterfly dance on the wind).
    Best advice I think I have ever heard.
    Thanks Stephanie, for the wonder blog.

  356. I think Jody at June 22, 2012 12:18 AM brings up an important point that isn’t getting enough attention. People keep referring to the Ravelympics as a ‘competition’. It’s really not-people are choosing to challenge themselves while they watch the Olympics. Tens of thousands of people want to participate in an online Olympics viewing party (with yarn), and the USOC is objecting.
    Sure I understand the trademark issue. But telling people that they can’t throw a party to celebrate the Olympics unless they refrain from using any portion of the Olympics name? Still pretty ridiculous.

  357. Excellent points and explanations. I was upset when I heard, but your post helped make sense of it. Well said, well said. Knit strong!

  358. I understand the need to protect trademark. But seriously, couldn’t some smart attorneys figure out a way to license the use of the term in a way that everyone could be happy. I don’t know how many knitters participate in Ravelry’s Olympics but it seems to be a pretty big number. Perhaps if Ravelry charged knitters a small fee to participate it could have resulted in a substantial donation to the USOC and big viewership of the games which is helpful to the USOC in that the higher viewership numbers helps them when negotiating the rights to televise the games? I just think they were lazy and fell on the legalities when some thought and consideration could have resulted in something really cool.

  359. I watched all of this unfold from the Rav and Twitter sidelines. Much as I would love to be angry and insulted and create publicity by knitting Stephen Colbert a pair of socks, there’s too much yarn I want to knit up for me. I’m going to knit through the Olympics anyway, whether or not my efforts get a cute event status.

  360. Thank you so much for making your point about this. Your views are (rightly!) held in such high esteem that of course knitters like me came to your blog as a priority.
    However, having read your blog entry carefully through, I have to say that I haven’t seen a post by a single Raveler who said that they thought the Ravelry knitting event was on a par with, the same as, just as important as, etc. as the “real” Olympics. Or that we are “elite” just like the Olympic athletes. In fact, I have seen load of posts – mine included – which said specifically that we are not on the same level as the US athletes referred to in the so-called “boiler-plate” cease-and-desist letter. It has to be said that (I hope) nobody makes US athletes train or compete against their will, so it’s a bit weird that we are constantly told we don’t know what they are “going through” or that they are part of a very small group and we have no clue what it’s like, etc. etc as though they are an endangered minority group which needs active protection and understanding.
    If the situation had been reversed and we had made insulting allegations against an official body, it would certainly have taken strong action in response. Would we have come out with such a limp and inadequate “apology”? Or would we have had to retract the untrue allegations asap? I think we all know the answer to that. That alone makes us classy. And *genuine*. When so much of human communication is language, it does matter what people say and write, especially people who claim somehow to “own” rights to global human heritage such as the Olympics, right down to the word itself, and can exclude the overwhelming majority of the human race from using this. This is a question worth getting agitated about, is not just fundamentally about “feelings being hurt”.
    The bottom line is this: London got the Olympics because of its bid, which had big-name accountants assisting with it, and yet somehow “accidentally” left out the VAT which should have been included, meaning that the bid amount was actually much higher than the amount which helped London to win. This has been extensively covered in publications such as Private Eye over the years between the bid winning and right now. The sheer amount of money which has been pumped into this event – which is NOT essential to human life at all – is staggering. Public services have been cut all over the place, at the same time as letting tax avoidance for large corporations be such a commonplace habit that it’s called “tax optimisation”. People have lost their pensions, hospitals are being stripped, disability benefits are being cut, etc. because there is “no money”. We have to have “austerity measures”. We are all “in it together”. So, Britain is in a double-dip recession, Europe is in the “Euro crisis”, etc., there are people starving, dying of preventable diseases, and dying in wars in various parts of the globe, and where is all the “peace and harmony and community-fostering” money being pumped? Ravelry is a powerful antidote to the damage being done by powerful corporations who demonstrably do not care about the damage they do to the environment, the economy or humans themselves. Public relations exercises and outright marketing are NOT caring.
    Ravelry isn’t “just” a virtual community or a creative wellspring, it organises important charity donations, fosters genuine altruism, and helps every single one of us to make a positive difference to someone’s life. It gives us a *voice*. And Ravelry does what it actually says it sets out to do. It doesn’t say one load of (positive-sounding) stuff and do something else entirely, and too bad, we cannot do anything about it.
    THIS is the bedrock of the anger which Ravelers like me felt when we saw the letter which had been sent to Jess and Casey, two people who are actually making the world a far better place by making Ravelry available at all. So yes, we will “stay classy”, but we will be outraged when someone says or does something outrageous.

  361. Thanks for your excellent explainations —we’re knitters, we’re peaceful –lets not lose track of that. We can call it a knit-a-thon, or knit-a-mile-of-smiles. It’s all good! Back to needles, everyone!

  362. Well Said……Personally I think this falls under the don’t sweat the small stuff category.
    When you take into consideration all the bad things that are going on in the world, changing the name of a knit-along seems pretty trivial.
    As someone who has been knitting for over 40 years I can’t begin to count the number of times I have received disrespectville comments from people who have no idea what fiber crafts involve. Most of these were delivered through ignorance of the craft by the person speaking, not due to malice, I know it is biased, but I would the lawyers who sent the letter don’t even know what knitting is and even less as to what it involves. If you really want to get upset over something I would advise the new oil spill in China that makes the one in the Gulf look like a drop in the ocean, or the homeless and starving in your own town.

  363. Well said Steph. I was not the least bit offended by the whole thing and I would never, ever equate knitting with the superior athletes that compete in the olympics. We can’t not support our athletes because of someone defending their rights. The USOC supports them and makes it possible for our best to make it to the Olympics. They are helping fulfill an athlete’s dream. Who are we to boycott this? Come on Knitters….we’re better than that! It’s just business, nothing personal.

  364. Sorry, can’t agree with you on USOC. They’re a bunch of tools. When we had the Olympics here in Atlanta they legally harassed the Greek owner of the Olympic Diner, in business for 35 years, to the point where I think he ended up out of business.

  365. Well said, Stephanie. Knitters can knit any time, and show off their finished projects over and over. They can keep them or give them away, and many people will see their skill and hard work often. Olympic athletes, no matter which country, get a chance to show their skill every four years, and sometimes, that’s only once in their whole lives.
    I think the USOC (and I am Canadian, here) is right about *what* they said, just not very tactful or nice in the *way* they said it. I see the Ravelympics as knitters supporting athletes worldwide, not cheapening their efforts.

  366. Here’s the problem with the USOC owning a trademark on the word “olympic” and going after Ravelry for using it: If they’ve sent a C&D letter to Ravelry, why haven’t they sent the same letter to Olympic® Paints and Stains, Olympic National Park, Olympic College, Olympic National Forest, the people who run the web site for the Olympic Penninsula, Olympic Limousine Service (which features the Olympic Airporter), the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, Olympic Medical Center, the Tufts University web site about the ancient Olympics, Olympic Village Inn at Squaw Valley Resort, the Olympic Music Festival, Olympic Lodge, Olympic, the Olympic CFM 600 System (used in NICUs), Olympic Middle School, Olympic Stone & Marble, Olympic Animal Sanctuary, Olympic Yacht Club, Olympic Club Foundation (the “oldest athletic club in the country”), Olympic Cellars, Olympic Moving & Storage, Olympic Noodle, Olympic Game Farm, Olympic Brewing and other organizations (not all of them in Washington state) that are clearly infringing on the trademark and obviously denigrating the atheletes and the USA?
    Yes, they have apologized. And, yes, they amended the first apology because it was just as snarky as the original C&D letter.
    But here’s the thing that really makes it very bad. Stephen Colbert’s “Colbert Nation” stepped in with funding to support the US Speedskating team when their money ran out. Where was the USOC when this USA team needed money for training? I think it was going to the USOC because it was just reported that the current CEO had an aggregate income of about $740,000 in salary and bonuses.
    I had been thinking to myself, “Hey, if Colbert Nation needs to bail out another US team for the Winter games, why don’t I come up with a cool pullover pattern that people could buy and then 100% of the selling price could go to support that team, too?”
    After all of the ill will generated by this magnificent blunder by the USOC, do you really think there is any hope of generating financial support for the athletes?

  367. I just had to add that as a community, knitters are very cognizant about the copyrights of patterns and other things. Isn’t it a bit hypocritical to be outraged that the USOC is defending theirs?

  368. Thank you so much for your reasoned, measured, thoughtful response. I have to admit I had not thought of any of it that way.

  369. Well said. I wish and hope so much that this could be the final word on the topic!

  370. Well said… and may I add one more point? We as knitters are often encouraging more people to knit ‘sure you can! it’s really only 2 different stitches!’ or other such comments. So it’s hard to compare ourselves to the elite (as you so eloquently put) when we are also encouraging everyone and anyone that they are just as capable!
    Was their language of the muggles? yes… but intended as denigrating? no.

  371. Talk about a tempest in a teapot!!! Thank you Stephanie for your well thought out response to this issue. Hopefully, your clarity and informed research has subdued the teeming hoards of Ravelers who were on the verge of revolution. I, for one, look forward to the Olympics every 4 years and would never forgo the excitement and fun because of a completely unimportant trademark issue. The USOC has to protect its property and while they certainly didn’t win any awards for diplomacy in their communication about the issue, I don’t really see any dire consequences. They apologized for their harsh treatment of the knitting community. Lighten up Ravelers! Call it whatever you want as long you don’t infringe on anyone’s trademark. Just enjoy the events, support our athletes and celebrate any way you want…knit ,crochet, weave, tat, macrame…anything that floats your boat!!! I will be knitting my little heart out during as many events as I can catch. This is the one occasion that our tragically divided nation can be on the same page….all rooting for the success of our teams.
    Stephanie, once again you are my hero….
    Barbara NYC

  372. Well said. I love knitting but I’m no Olympian. It’s their word. If they don’t think it’s appropriate for us to use it then that’s the end of the discussion as far as I’m concerned. Do they suffer from “foot in mouth disease”? Hell, yeah. Does that make them wrong? Nope.

  373. It is standard practice for C & D letters to be threatening and over-stated. Economic reality dictates that Intimidation (that is, bullying) saves lots of legal expense and court time, if it works. The underlying assumption is that the only way to relate is through an adversarial, competitive system. Laws are written to guide all disputes, whether real or imaginary, into the adversarial system. That is simple professional self interest. That the scapegoat intern worked within this world view poses a moral dilemma for him. He may choose to live his life that way. The legal system is often defended as the only alternative to mortal combat. Not so! Some reasonable accommodation and kindness can also settle imaginary disputes. I call this so-called trademark infringement “imaginary” because there is no chance in the world that anyone but an outright idiot could confuse Ravelympics with the festival of nationalistic competition that is the Olympic games. There is no chance that Ravelympics could have a measurable economic impact upon the Olympic Games. That the USOC would choose to elevate, to exaggerate this remote possibillity to a C & D letter, no matter how well or poorly written, demonstrates their extremely limited view of human relations and reality. It is not a good model. Trademarking words which have attained a general or symbolic meaning in language, as the word “olympic” has, is sheer, arrogant, over-stepping idiocy. Mt.Olympus existed long before it was named, long before anyone imagined it was the home of local gods, long before it became a location for, or namesake of, a particular athletic competition. All of those meanings are possible in use of the word. Context and intent is the determining factor, not the mere appearance of a set of letters on a page. If I call myself a “giant” of intellect I don’t expect the “Food Giant” supermarket corporation to come at me tooth and claw. If I sing “Old MacDonald had a farm ee -i ee-i oh” to my grandchildren I don’t expect a lawsuit from MacDonald’s Burgers Inc. My personal response to the USOC would be to tell them not to be silly and to ignore future communications from them.

  374. You’re not wrong, Steph, but I’m glad they were called on their condescending and frankly bullshit language. I don’t expect it to make much of a lasting impact, but the USOC are bullies, and I really don’t like bullies. Defending one’s legal rights doesn’t require that sort of language.
    I am not going to send letters or conduct a protest or anything, but as with many other companies, I will certainly keep this in mind as I make my shopping decisions. I think the Olympics have strayed very, very far from their ideal.

  375. Well said (as always). Thanks for shouldering the responsibility of responding, when you have so many other things in your personal life that need your time and attention.
    And a very belated happy birthday wish!

  376. Thanks again. I commented last night, but after reading around the net, I just have to add that I think the parallel twitterknitter cyberbullying of our much-maligned USOC intern has shown an ugly side of the knitting/Ravelry community that is frankly disappointing. I was hoping we were better than that. (no, I know you’re not doing it, but many from the community are just piling on!) As the mother of a son and aunt of two young attorneys, it makes my heart hurt.

  377. Very lovely post. But completely missing the point, as did many of the attorneys commenting here. If Ravelry was allowing people to sell or make money on the US Olympic logo-yes there was a violation. The United States owning a word? Only in their attorneys dreams. Issuing a classic Non-Apology is adding to the stupidity. Stupidity of Olympic proportions. Perhaps because I live in Kansas City and over the years have watched Hallmark cards sue everyone they could track down for using Hallmark as a family name while using other companies cards as their own. Hallmark was founded by Joyce Hall. Hallmark still loses 30-40 lawsuits of copyright infringement a year, they can’t seem to stop using other peoples cards as their own.

  378. Thanks for turning a boil down to a simmer.
    It was inevitable that this would happen. If, (as what happened in Vancouver, BC many, many years ago) a tiny Greek Pizza joint with the word Olympic in it got ratted out, then everyone is at risk. What with the interwebs they had to find “Ravelympics” eventually.
    Let’s all just knit and see how it all plays out.

  379. Three thoughts:
    Does Medecins Sans Frontieres mind that there is a Tricoteuses Sans Frontieres? I bet not.
    Can we have “The Event Formerly Known As Ravelympics”? I bet not.
    Will we still, amongst ourselves and not in print call it “Ravelympics”? I bet!

  380. clapping.
    Has anyone considered the poor clerk/intern that probably typed that letter? They were just doing their job and because they probably don’t have a knitter in their life (how sad for them), they didn’t think twice about the wording and THEN a perfect storm ensued. oy.

  381. Me, again.
    Hubby brought up a good point……couldn’t we just change the name to Ravelympix ????

  382. I actually laughed when I read the original USOC letter on Ravelry, and said to myself, “You’ve done it now, Buckoes!” I imagined millions of knitted Olympic washcloths innundating their offices…. Anyway, thank you Stephanie, for being the cooler head and the Voice of Knitting Reason. I do so wish you could run for president!

  383. I have enjoyed your blog from the beginning but haven’t commented in years. Thank you for a thought-provoking, well-written post. At the beginning my hair was standing on end in indignation. By the end I was calmly knitting.

  384. Can’t we just get a quote from the USOC on what it’d cost to buy a license to use “ravelympics,” then create a Kickstarter and raise the $$?

  385. Wow, I missed the hubbub!
    I think the rub is worse because people were excited about working on their projects WHILE watching those great athletes do their thing. The goal was to participate as viewers and make the whole thing extra-special with a super fun project and the USOC basically said “we don’t want your additional excitement.”
    Badly done. They could have fostered the excitement while protecting their proprietary rights by asking Ravelry to change the name. Look at Stephen Colbert’s Vancouver O-Ten for example. That was a smart way to change the name while still getting to have your fun.

  386. I loved your letter of reason. I also loved “Pam’s: comment about “we do not work on an olympic caliber. Obviously they’ve never seen a knitter the week before Christmas trying desperately to get two hats and a pair of socks knit before Christmas. But that’s just my opinion.” That made me laugh out loud and almost spit coffee. Even so, we are not athletes, we are creative, artists. Some so much better than others. As for making money, how many “sold their patterns” of olympic rings and such? Did they donate that money to the olympics? Ravelry Games, that’s just as fun. I still have a WIP for the 2010 games…so there you go. As creative as we can get with knitting/crocheting our projects, I’m sure we can get just as creative with names for the “competition”. Love ya Steph!

  387. Thank you so much for taking the time to think this issue through, and then carefully explaining how you see it. It’s hard not to have a knee jerk reaction when your feelings are hurt. It’s hard to be a sane voice of reason when all those around you are going off half- cocked (or quarter-cocked). I think you did a wonderful job thinking, ‘splaining, and rising above the maddening crowd. This is why we love you Stephanie. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

  388. I will watch the Olympics and although I don’t knit, I will use that time spent in front of the TV with my sewing project of the year. You inspired me 4 years ago to tackle a monster of an embroidery project – yes, with your knitting people during the Olympics. Let the USOC own the word. They won’t have my heirloom pillowcases nor my Church Ladies, reversible apron with fancy pockets. Peace out people – don’t be so cranky, heat wave or not.

  389. Once again, you are the voice of reason in a sea of hysteria. So often people get all bent out of shape, largely because they can’t see both sides of an issue. You showed us both sides of this issue so beautifully in this post. Thank you!

  390. Steph, that was brilliant. Spot-on and brilliant. I admit my feelings were hurt by the “denigrating” remark, but I do understand that the USOC has to defend its trademarks, I was never upset about that, and am still not. If we call it the Ravelry Games or whatever, I’m still going to have fun doing it, and I’m still going to check out the Olympics while I’m doing it. Anyway – thanks so much for being the voice of reason, as you so often are.

  391. Thank you, Stephanie, for how eloquently, caringly, wittily, and intelligently you once again explained the facts of life as they pertain to this latest crazy moment.
    PEACE IS THE NAME OF OUR GAME!

  392. Yes!! And now I am going to go sit down and knit a tiny little hat for ‘Calvin’s Hats’…hats for teeny babies born much too soon. Inhale pink, exhale blue! Want to knit some too? Go to: http://www.calvinshats.com

  393. More comments here than I’ve seen before! Mostly respectful and well-considered.
    Your remarks: to the point, sensible, and NOT dismissive of anyone.
    Ravelry should SO call the competition “Fred”! People would be, like, “Whuh?!?”
    Love it.

  394. Since you have dealt with trademark stuff in the past, maybe you know about this: several people have asked it before me. How can the name “ravelympics” be a trademark violation? It’s not the same word, and the CONCEPT of the olympic games goes back to ancient Greece, so surely can’t be owned by a US company. I understand images of course, but I don’t see why the name is an issue.
    I’m not particularly mad about it, just curious.

  395. Wow! Before I even knew there was a controversy, you took the time and effort to put things into perspective, Steph.
    All that bike-riding must be aiding in clarity of mind!
    Thank you.

  396. Ok for the copyright stuff. Not ok with the degenerate knitters stuff. They are sports/entertainment stuff. Nothing world saving about 100 M dash or jumping of a diving board. Compare that with all the knitters who make hats for preemies and cancer victims, stuffed animals for disaster struck kids, hats and mitts for the homeless, raise money for charity with their knit goods, provide comfort for the soldiers in combat, warm clothes for their kids. I could go on but really, I don’t see that trying to be the fastest runner in the world compares with the above. I would say that the Olympics should be over joyed to have been associated with knitters.

  397. Thank you for your calm, reasonable response to this unfortunate experience, Stephanie. I appreciate your sharing these remarks as well as the information you provided about trademark law and how restrictive it is on the trademark holder(s).

  398. Oh Stephanie:
    You make me want to be a better person.
    And an even better knitter. I’m proud of you.

  399. It is nice to have a calm voice rise above the mob. I agree with much of what you said. However, I believe you missed the mark on this one.
    You are correct that the USOC is not asking Ravelers to abandon their games, only rename them. (I say “their games” because I don’t personally play along, although I am an active Ravelry knitter.) I don’t know much about copyright laws, but what you said made sense, except that I agree with the people who pointed out that, unlike your Sock Summit example, nobody would confuse what we do with THE Olympic games.
    You missed the mark in your comparison of knitters to athletes.
    The difference is NOT that we are knitters and they are athletes. The difference is that they have a world-wide competition every four years to find who is that best at running 100 meters or playing table tennis or shooting an arrow. We have not had a forum, on the global scale, to compete with our peers. If we did, I’m sure we would be eager to see who would win at Cable Construction or Turning a Heel or Working Without a Pattern.
    You said, “We are not, however, spending our whole lives trying to be not just someone who can run 100 metres, but trying to be someone who can run 100 meters better than every single other person on earth.”
    Perhaps not. But we would! If there was a global competition to be the best at something knitting-related, there are those of us who would train and compete in those events. At whatever cost. In my home state of Connecticut, our local fair is having it’s 100th annual event. (http://www.goshenfair.org/contests.htm) Among it’s contests are Needlework, which include knitting and crocheting. Competition is fierce. Those medals are displayed with much pride.
    The Olympics only highlights athletes. (Can I use “Olympics” here? Is there a jar I should throw a quarter into?) We don’t know, every four years, who is the best typist on the planet. Or the best electrician. Or what construction team can frame a house the fastest. For some reason, long ago, certain sports were chosen to highlight achievement, and we continue to raise our athletes to demi-god status. Perhaps it’s because it’s not as much fun to watch someone type, or wire a house, or even knit a sock. It doesn’t make for riveting television programming.
    You said they “put more sweat and training and work into that than anyone else ever has in the whole world.” I understand that physical training is different than knitting but you, of all people, should know how hard we train! Just like the athletes who want to be coached by the Great Ones, knitters travel to your Sock Summit, or various retreats to learn new techniques, training with those in our field who are recognized professionals. Somehow these knitters find time, funding and passion to better themselves at their chosen endeavor. It just happens that they are improving knitting skills rather than rowing or sailing skills.
    You said, “We are not like elite athletes.  We are really great, but we are not the same as they are.” Well, of course not. The same way my surgeon is not the same as my accountant, but if I said that my accountant, by doing a great job on my taxes, “saved my life,” I’m not denigrating the work that my surgeon does. In the same way, Ravelry’s competition, using a derivitive of the Olympic name, does not somehow belittles their athletic efforts.
    As for being an elite athlete: You are not, perhaps, an elite athlete (recent bike-riding notwithstanding), but you are elite. Let me say that again really carefully: You, Stephanie, are an elite knitter. You belong to a small, select group. You are paid to travel, teach and learn about knitting and knitters. Many of us would choose that as a vocation were it an option, however, because our craft is not held in high regard, there are few people who could command enough money in this field to make a living at it. You are an exception. You are doing what many of us would like to do but can’t. Your profession is made possible by the devotion of knitters to their craft.
    The USOC said that by spending time knitting, competing amongst ourselves, and doing it in our own forum during the same time the Olympics are held, we were, being “disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fail(ing) to recognize or appreciate their hard work,” which in turn implies that anyone can, without any time or training or effort, pick up needles and knit something – basically failing to recognize or appreciate our hard work. I’m not advocating pitchforks and angry mobs but is it any surprise their words were met with such hostility? They added their voices to the many who already can’t believe we pay upwards of $20 for yarn to make one pair of socks or that we value giving a handmade hat that took 15 hours to make instead of simply buying a store bought item. And you defended them.
    It’s a fine line to walk. I agree we must “Stay Classy.” That doesn’t mean we should accept the abuse, nod our heads and move on; it means we express our outrage in a civilized manner. I don’t know how sincere the USOC’s apology was, but we wouldn’t have received one had the knitting community not risen up together in anger. Now, I believe that, for the most part, we have been heard and it’s time to move on.

  400. I am still upset, I have to say.
    I’m not upset about the name – trademark defense kind of sucks and I accept that sometimes crappy things come out of the weird screw up we’ve made of our attempts to protect intellectual property. (That shouldn’t’ stop us from attempting those protections.)
    I don’t think that the Ravelympics was really conflating the Olympics with knitting. They are different things, even if knitting was part of the original Olympics.
    I think of the Ravelympics as more of a “backyard barbecue” sort of endeavor. A bunch of people getting together to support they Olympics and have some fun with the level of participation we can, a celebration of the Olympics. And saying that a backyard barbecue is denigrating or disrespectful to the event it is trying to celebrate can’t be taken as anything other than mean and hurtful.
    The USOC basically said that knitters arecelebrating the Olympics wrong, and screwing it up so badly that it is an insult to the athletes. (With the subtext being that the only proper way to celebrate the Olympics is to buy sponsored stuff, but that might just be me.)

  401. I’m an avid reader and sometimes (okay, not very often) commenter. While I thank you for offering your perspective, I have to disagree with some (not all) of what you said here. I think those of us knitters that were hurt by the language used in the letter weren’t so much hurt by the fact that they think they’re the same as atheletes. To the contrary, I think many of us are fans of the Olympics because of the herculean feats we see these atheletes accomplish during the games. BUT, the fact that the atheletes are amazing doesn’t make knitting silly and the fact that we are knitting during the Olympics doesn’t trivialize what the atheletes are doing. No one is comparing themselves to these atheletes, we’re just saying that what we do is important too, and in no way does what we do make the atheletes any less important.
    To the point of whether the USOC “had to” defend its trademark against Ravelry’s use of the suffix -lympics…. what seems lost in the shuffle is the fact that unlike the Gay Olympics, the Porn Olympics and all these other quasi-Olympic events, the Ravylmpics is NOT a competition. I’m also not sure this situation is as black & white as you suggest in this post and certainly distinguishable in many ways from the sock summit situation you were talking about. It would be the USOC’s burden to prove that Rav actually makes more money from its various revenue sources because of the Ravelympics and I’m not sure that would be as easy to prove as you suggest. (Whether it’s worth it for Ravelry to litigate over this is another matter entirely that the Rav powers that be are being advised on by their lawyers).
    Despite my disagreements, I do appreciate your calming voice in all of this!

  402. “Nobody puts knitting in a corner” – OMG! Love that! As usual, thanks for being the voice of reason when people are totally losing their $%^*. Well said!

  403. Thank you for your well stated comments. I have to wonder why on earth they felt the need to add the “degenerate” part. While I would never consider what I do on par with the Olympians in a million years, it seems incredibly personal and deliberately insulting for them to say that regarding a legal matter.

  404. I was really angry when I first heard this too. After thinking about it though, I didn’t want to boycott watching the Olympics. I realized doing that would only hurt the athletes who have worked and sacrificed so much to represent their countries. I am sure they haven’t a clue about what is going on. Most of them are just worried about getting to London and participating in their events. Things would have gone much smoother if the letter had just said, “Please stop using anything related to the Olympics either in phrase or illustrated”. The denigrating remark is what put everyone over the edge. I guess this will teach the USOC (and everyone else, really) a lesson. Think long and hard and as carefully as you can about what you’re writing or saying because it can come back to bite you in the arse if you’re not careful.

  405. Thank you for the good explanation. It is very brave of you to write thise blog and I hope a lot of people read this and understand it.

  406. You are the voice of reason, once again. Too bad, being born Canadian, you can never run for president here in the U.S. We’re having a political “voice of reason” drought here.
    I do sincerely hope there really isn’t anyone who eats kleenex as an art form. That would be very hard to digest.
    Thank you for always striving to be the best You!

  407. I’m just flattered that they thought Ravelry was big enough to go after.
    It’s a compliment, really.
    And isn’t it more important what YOU think of what you do, rather than anyone else? Someone can tell me knitting is silly and outdated all they want; it won’t change how I feel about it.

  408. Thank you for your wisdom. I think we knitters are a little tender in places from the “denigration” that we experience from people who are supposed to love us and love that we knit. They don’t always do both. Your excellent blog entry today goes a long way to bringing us back to reason and calm. After all, that’s what we are. And BTW, I teach knitting wherever I am: to tweens in the middle school commons, to homeless women at the shelter, to acquaintances in the hospital waiting room, to friends and family. I love your comment that knitting can be “transformational”. That’s exactly the word I was looking for. Actually, I have said that it can save a life. And I think it has: mine. Love you.

  409. I wish to add only two things:
    First, in regards to the trademark law of it all, we need to keep in mind that the USOC is not actually operating under normal trademark law: there’s a statute that grants them sole use of the mark, so it’s a different kettle of fish than ordinary trademark law, with different, wider-reaching rules. They also do have to defend their mark, and I fully support their right to do so, on the grounds that trademarks are delicate things and easily diluted (just ask Thermos, who lost their mark as the name became diluted through common use).
    Second, however much I support their right to defend the mark, I cannot support the attitude that came with the defense of the mark. They had solid legal grounds to ask that the Rav group change its name and not use trademarked logos; there was absolutely no need to claim that knitters “denigrate” the Olympics by having their own games. This is not down to hurt feelings on my part, though I will admit to a moment of sting. I won’t claim that knitting a sweater and running a marathon are the same thing, because they’re not. But the spirit of the Olympics, and one of the things that the USOC claims to be protecting, is a sense of community that crosses international borders. Ravelry and the knitting community at large has got the concept of global community down pat. Knitters who’ve never met will help each other with patterns or finding that last skein of discontinued yarn to finish a project. That is precisely the attitude the Olympics should foster, and in the world we’ve got right now, we just can’t afford to poo-poo anything that increases fellow feeling across the world, whether it’s a 200 yard dash or a 200 yard scarf. It’s irresponsible to claim that someone else’s efforts don’t count because they’re not the same as yours, and it’s indicative of how staggeringly much work we have left to do. This particular legal gambit worries me deeply because it is unnecessarily divisive at a time when we can’t afford anymore division.
    So, USOC, I support your choice to defend your mark. I will not be boycotting anything, and I will not go unearth my pitchfork. But please give a little more thought to the bigger issues at hand rather than stooping to pettiness: the world needs all the help it can get, and you’ve got a perfect platform from which to offer a hand up.

  410. I did not read through all of the 500 or so comments so forgive me if I am already saying something someone has said. I just want to say, Stephanie, that you did such a great job being balanced, informative and fair whith what you said in this post. It is not always easy to put aside our upset feelings and give the facts. I was so impressed. So many people read your blog and I am sure you helped alot of people better understand the situation in a nice polite way without upsetting (hopefully) anyone. Great blog!!

  411. Hear, hear! Athletes and artists are indeed different, valuable for the common good in different ways. If the name on Ravelry must be changed, nothing important is really changed. “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

  412. O my I love you!!! And your writing and your logical and your way of bringing back common sense!!! Please never stop!

  413. Very well said. I will be knitting as much as my 3 kids lets me no matter what they decide to call it.
    I understand that they had a legal responsibility. Just because thieir C&D letter wasn’t classy doesn’t mean we must lose all class as well. Did the USOC word their request poorly? Yep. Am I going to let it spoil my fun? Nope.

  414. I am so pleased that the first news I got about this issue was from your blog. Well said, my dear, peace atcha.

  415. Thank you for your calming and thoughtful post.
    It seems as if there’s two issues here, one is the copyright issue, which I *think* most of us can agree on.
    But it seems to me that the real issue is the hierarchy of skills.
    And lets take your idea of a kleenex eater. If the world was truly unbiased, and someone really did worked their whole life at getting good eating kleenex, then who are we to insult them?
    Shouldn’t we strive to value everyone’s contribution to life?
    Would a painting olympics be as insulting to athletes? There’s millions of painters out there, just as there’s millions of knitters.
    Probably not, since a painter is more respected than being a good knitter or kleenex eater.

  416. Well this isn’t what I thought you’d blog about today. I thought you would mention your sock pattern on the front page of Blue Moon Fiber Arts… I enjoyed reading this though. 🙂

  417. Very nice column, in the archaic sense of nice. Well put and well organized. Of course, the whole fantod could have been avoided if the request had been made to include a disclaimer, like “not associated in any way with the Olympics, the USOC, the Pope or any other head of government.” That sort of thing.
    I enjoy knitting. I spend a great deal of my time doing it. But at the end of the day, I know that I have been doing fancy tricks with expensive string. So I don’t see myself taking any of this that personally.

  418. Steph, you are SO the voice of reason, classy and articulate reason. Thank you for this post!!!

  419. To keep a clear head when all around you are loosing their. Thanks so much for the clear thinking, and – even better – clear writing.

  420. My goodness, you even had a spot-on Dirty Dancing reference. Yarn Harlot for Prime Minister. Please!

  421. Well Said Stephanie – lets just Knit On and have fun no matter what the name. We knitters are bigger than fussing about how other folks earn their money and support or atheletes.
    Hester from Atlanta

  422. That’s a lot of explaining to basically agree with the move of the USOC, Stephanie. Here’s the thing- more and more of the things that are supposed to be cultural/national, bring-us-all-togetha things are becoming so embroiled in the money that when a celebration of said ‘thing’ happens outside of said ‘thing’s’ bureaucratic leadership- someone gets a smackdown, and then it’s no longer a ‘thing’ to celebrate.
    I am a failed gymnast. I injured my arm badly in training at age 13 and was unable to go further. I had plans. Those plans got flushed down the proverbial toilet when I could no longer compete or train without risking the use of that arm.
    Today I’m a knitter and a number of other things that I’ve had to work hard at. Knitting was not simple for me to learn, but I did it. I wouldn’t say that my middle-aged knitting was any less difficult (especially in the time frame I learned) than gymnastics was as a child. Is training for the olympics intense? Obviously. But the fire is there- and that makes a difference. It stops being so much about work and more about seeing what you can do.
    Same with any sort of art or craft. I know a lot of athletes. Some of them aren’t very smart people- and did terribly in school – and made weird life choices. And yet- when they did well it was held up as some sort of abnormal feat while the people working hard to get the good grades and keep themselves out of trouble were never given the same sort of encouragement.
    When I read the letter, it fit in with what I see as a cultural attitude that sports rule all accomplishment. Bollocks. They are one accomplishment in many.
    Basically, what it comes down to is this: They wrote the letter BADLY. I don’t buy the eating kleenex silliness above. This was a generalized insult towards a gigantic group of people who’ve basically spent all of recorded history being denigrated (I’m speaking primarily of women here- but hey- let’s add in traditional women’s “craft” as opposed to masculine art..).
    And that is not okay.
    Here’s what they should do: Withdraw the original letter and follow it up with a *real* standard C/D letter sans the not-so-passive, aggressive insults. And then keep apologizing and heck- as someone noted above- MAKE a pattern available that knitters can make and DO something with. Geez.
    Lastly- for the record, I don’t give a hoot what name Ravelry comes up with for their competition- I wasn’t a participant. The insulting attitude followed by the “give us free stuff!” is puzzling, clueless and shows the sign of serious patriarchal snobbery towards this craft and others. Blah.

  423. That was a beautiful, well thought out and balanced piece. I hope it will go a long way toward calming everyone down.
    I do have a couple of issues with it though. While I agree that the USOC is under legal obligation (maybe – they don’t actually have a trademark, but a special act of Congress, so they might operate in a unique sphere) to defend their trademark, I do think it is important to step back and think about why.
    Well, as you said, to protect their ability to earn money by licensing their trademark. But why are those licenses so valuable? Well, because the Olympic athletes are so amazing that everyone wants to watch them right? And so people/corporations that sponsor them get to bask in the reflected glow right?
    But what if the IOC (which is the group that demands that every hosting country permanently and vociferously protects the brand name) has been operating as a monopoly for too long? What if they have forgotten that they need to actually woo their audience and have started to do too many things that upset too many people? And I am not just talking about knitters here. Not remotely.
    At what point do all those collectively upset and sad knitters, pub and cafe owners, vintners, small company owners, teachers and school children decide that they hate these stupid games? Or just that they are bothered enough to not bother watching the games? What happens if the awesome athletes start to bask in the reflected glow of dislike for the trademark owner? What value are the trademarks then, if there is no reflected awesome glow for the licensees?
    The Olympics already loses money for the host cities and countries. What happens when those cities also start to lose their reputations for friendly openness whenever they host? Will cities still fight to host the games? If no one watches, barring the people actually present in the cities hosting, how much will the sponsors want to pay?
    There are two parts to protecting a trademark. One part is making sure that no one else uses it. The other is making sure that everyone still likes the brand it represents.
    The athletes will always be amazing. But they compete every year in various world championships. And there are competing and equally awesome world sporting events that only take place every 4 years and are much friendlier to their audiences. World Cup anyone?
    Maybe to protect its brand, the USOC should go back to Congress and ask that in addition to the box on our tax forms asking Americans to fund their presidential elections, there was a box to tick to donate $2 to the US Olympic team. They would get more money for the athletes without having to damage their brand/trademark trying to get it.
    So while I agree that the crazy that happened yesterday in response to that letter was a little extreme, I hope it was a wake up call of sorts to USOC. If they don’t change their ways, I won’t be the only person who no longer watches people doing things I could never dream of doing. And since we don’t watch a lot of tv in my house anyway, my 4 children (who are definitely in the geek not greek world) will never get indoctrinated into the glory of watching the Olympics, the way my husband and I were when we were young.
    By the time they are grown, maybe the Olympics will be seen as some over commercialized event run by bullies that more and more people just don’t bother with anymore.
    I think that would be sad.

  424. Well said, Stephanie. I just wish people wouldn’t get their knickers in a knot about “stuff” that doesn’t actually interfere with their actual lives.

  425. I had no idea this was even happening. I have to agree with your overall assessment of the situation but I’m a little confused 2 things. First. “Ravelympics” is not the same word as “Olypmics”. That is pretty freakin simple. I don’t care if we don’t get use trademarks, but I’d bet anyone a million dollars that the USOC does not own the word “Ravelympics”. The second confusing things is about the denigration part of the problem. Ravelympic “events” are NOT real competitions. No one wins anyting other than bragging rights. I never thought that by participating in an event that I was in any way emulating an actual athlete. The fun is in picking a project and KNITTING IT WHILE THE OLYMPICS ARE GOING ON, preferably while cheering on athletes from my own country. To hear that the USOC doesn’t want knitters to do this feels a little like they are telling me personally what to do with my own hands. I can let you gues what I would say in reply.

  426. “$port$” is the national religion of the United States, and the USOC sees itself as one of the Keepers of the Flame. I’m familiar with the attitude, living in central Pennsylvania.

  427. As always your words are wise and your heart and head are in the right place.
    You make something crazy into something calm – by providing information and ‘clearing’ things up.
    Much appreciated!

  428. The USOC is mean to everybody. We couldn’t use the Olympic rings on the cover of a book about the Olympics that we made at Sports Illustrated. We could use a photograph that had the rings IN it, but not the rings themselves.

  429. I did not read any of the 500+ comments sent to you on this one. I believe you truly thought about this and your answer was perfect. Thank you.

  430. After a day of thought and reading of the comments here and elsewhere, I’ve come to a place where I would urge the USOC to withdraw their C&D letter completely. The Ravelympics do not compete in any way with the Summer Olympics, and in fact, promote watching them while knitting. The knitters are a group of FANS who use the Games as incentive to challenge themselves in their chosen endeavor.
    Having read duelling attorneys’ opinions on the legitmacy of USOC’s copywrite claim, it seems to me that the committee would have a difficult time defending their position in court. I think the Ravelry owners would do well to tell the USOC to go ahead and sue them if they must, but I hardly think they would and if they did, they wouldn’t win. If it came to that, we could organize a Ravelry Defense Fund if necessary to fight the corporate bully.
    Finally, the USOC could do even more to make this right by joining with the Ravelympics participants and encouraging them to complete their projects. They could send the owners a boxful of Olympic pins which could be awarded to all knitters who finished their challenge within the timeframe.
    Ultimately, I’m not ready to “move on” as I said previously, but want to continue to take this organization on to challenge them to encourage us, rather than “denigrate” us.

  431. As I am always the one to try to make a joke out of things, I suppose we also can’t call it “The Event Which Shall Not Be Named”.
    Thank you for your post, Steph.

  432. Oh, and one more thing. The logo itself is one thing to copywrite, but the word “olympics” is quite another, and that’s where their argument is flawed. IMO.

  433. My response to Nelago:
    Ms. McPhee attempted to summarize and respond to a series of rants on several sites relating to the C&D letter. One poor word choice certainly changed the tone of that letter and, therefore, responses to it. Just the sort of error I would expect an overzealous and unseasonsed intern to make. Yarn artists did go a bit off the deep end about it, which hardly comes off as mature. So a well-respected author with a so-called “bully pulpit” attempted to cast bread upon the waters. Ms. McPhee seems to have hit the mark for the majority of us. It’s unfortunate that you feel the way you do, but no one “made” you have those feelings. When a non-knitter (as I once was) reads Yarn Harlot, s/he sees how lightly a passionate person can tread upon the Earth while remaining true to the craft. As far as other bloggers (??) — not so much.

  434. I haven’t read all the comments, so please forgive me if I am repeating what someone else has already said.
    I respectfully disagree with you on a couple of things. Primarily, though, I have a problem with those who license words and concepts that have been in the public domain for hundreds of years.
    You have every right to protect the Sock Summit. That was your original idea. The Olympics, on the other hand, existed long before the USOC.

  435. Such a touch topic. It is true, the USOC has to defend their trademark, however, its also true (as many commenters have already pointed out) that they do this in a rather heavy handed manner, such as they way they handle businesses on the Olympic Peninsula (many of whom preemptively contact the USOC when they first open with a letter specifying that they will not use any symbols or language regarding the Olympics and that their goal is to reach an amicable and fair agreement with the USOC about Olympic the location vs Olympic the games).
    I do want to point out one issue however, while the USOC claims to support athletes in that quote on their website, they have been increasingly criticized in recent years for raking in sponsorship and advertising dollars, paying its executives hundreds of thousands… and the athletes remain unsupported.
    http://thesportdigest.com/2012/04/u-s-olympic-athletes-have-a-hard-knock-life/
    This article has a nice summary of the criticism

  436. As always you are logical and rational and eloquent! HOW dare you! 😉 No really, are you a Vulcan or something?
    I would have to say that when I heard this it made me laugh. The fact that someone had to send KNITTERS a cease and desist order! lol Still makes me giggle. We’re a bunch of rebels!
    Thank you for talking us back from the edge! 🙂

  437. @ Kim H:
    “By the time they are grown, maybe the Olympics will be seen as some over commercialized event run by bullies that more and more people just don’t bother with anymore.”
    The Olympics are already at this point.

  438. Steph,
    I don’t know if you’ll read this post, waaay down at the bottom of hundreds upon hundreds of others, but I’d like to say it anyways. What you’ve written… this is why I love reading your blog. You have such a gift with words and can really get to the heart of things without making those things worse. You make me proud. Proud to be Canadian. Proud to be a knitter. Proud to be a woman. Proud. Thank you for what you do and are.

  439. I must vehemently disagree that knitters over-reacted. This action is endemic of the encroaching corporate power and buying of our legislatures to ensure only those with the proper corporate connections can have the law on their side. As a matter of fact, USOC has, what in essence, is a private law that gives them rights above and beyond trademark rights.
    They have been _abusing_ this right for nearly 30 years.
    Canada does not have the same issues. And, the USOC failed to recognize that Ravelry is an international site, not an US exclusive site.
    Further, I have slogged my way through more 19th century writing than most. It is the basis of most legal writing (IANAL, historian/librarian). The apologies were just as insulting to anyone familiar with such writing.
    These folks are corporate shills who got caught with their pants down and are not willing to make a decent PR apology. Their PR people really need to be fired if this is the best they can do.

  440. I would think that the Olympics could use it as an opportunity and encourage people who use Raverly to knit while they watch the Olympics, isn’t that what they hope for a wide audience? Catherine

  441. I posted this on Ravelry, but I wanted to mention it here:
    I think it would be nice if Ravelers knit stuff and sent it to the USOC. For one thing, it would be sort of hilarious if they got inundated in knitted things. 🙂 And I think it would be a gracious way to accept their apology while making the point, “There are a lot of knitters out there, Jack.” It would sort of be that Southern thing where you kill someone with kindness, while making your point. 🙂
    I wanted to post it here because I thought, if anyone could organize a really thorough yarnbombing, it would be the Yarn Harlot. 🙂 What could be better than the USOC getting 2.2 million knitted items?

  442. I agree with most of what you say. I know that they had to send a cease and desist letter. But that letter should have stopped at that. There was no need to even comment on knitters denigrating athletes. Most of us are not athletes, but we were combining two things that mean a lot to us: watching Team USA and knitting. That is insulting.

  443. well said, my dear. This makes me less angry than when the Olympic Committee chose to outsource the sweaters at the last winter olympics rather than let the native women in Canada make them.

  444. I’m probably the only person who laughed when I read the original letter (still haven’t seen the apologies). My immediate reaction was, “You’ve gone and done it now, Buckoes!” Like Booa, I imagined 2 million knitters sending knitted washcloths with the olympic rings to the USOC offices! Thank you, Stephanie for being the knitters Voice of Reason. I do so wish you could run for president, just think what you could accomplish then!

  445. I personally think the issue was, here, in official letter form, was an organization suggesting quite strongly that knitting was not worthwhile. I mean, how many of us have had the same thing told to us by strangers, or by friends or family members? “Oh, you knit?” Like it’s a waste of time. It doesn’t happen to me often, and I’ve long since gotten over it, but to see it in letter form, sent to entire community… I’m glad we took a stand. Even if we blew it out of proportion, so what?
    I also think it’s important for there to be a (healthy) push-back to the commercialization that has overtaken our society.
    There’s my two cents 😉

  446. This happened to my public high school back in the 80’s. We were the Olympians and our mascot was an Olympian and we had the rings on everything. They let us change our name to ‘the Olys’, but we couldn’t use the mascot anymore (in fact it’s pretty sad because to this day there isn’t a mascot). And we most certainly couldn’t keep using the rings. Construction had to take place, hearts were broken, people were outraged. Then, just as now, no one is being attacked. It just sucks, then life goes on (but without a mascot).

  447. I read the original letter and then the apologies… thank you for clarifying it for those that needed it without any rancor. Live long and prosper Yarn Harlot!

  448. Well put, stephanie. But I think we need to also remember that (speaking as a paralympian) the olympics (and paralympics) are a tournament of games we hold every so often. They were thought to be a substitute for war, a way to compete without killing anyone and build friendship. They are not life-or-death. They are a life’s work for only a very select, elite few. It’s a rarified life and I don’t think any olympian or paralympian should be called a hero. Heroes are firefighters and police (and others) who put their lives on the line to help others.
    I say that – as evidenced by a rather mean spirited letter, even if it is legally correct – the Olympic movement has moved far, far away from that original goal. The reason people hate the USOC now is not because they are wrong, it’s because they are douchebags every time they defend their trademark. In Vancouver, they sent a C&D letter to an old man who had run Olympic Pizza in downtown vancouver for more than 20 years. He was from Greece and named it after the mountain. And because the 1 million ton gorrilla that is the Olympics was descending upon our city, they got to bully a businessman to defend their trademark – damaging his business when their trademark would never be damaged. Ultimately global trademark law is at fault, because as you noted, it has no measure for damage or severity. It’s a black and white issue that in our day and age, has an awful lot of grey.
    I do think this was a tempest in a teapot, but I’m not sorry. When communities of people stand up to those behaving poorly, it keeps us all accountable for our actions. I just hope that Ravelers who responded to the USOC letter through tweets, etc. were reasonably civil about it, lest we become the bullies.

  449. This sort of thing always makes me wonder what our attention is being drawn away from. Dear US Olympic Committee- get over it and pay attention to what your job really is-taking care of the athletes and what they are doing.
    I love to knit and watch the Olympics. Your grandmothers are up there wondering about your upbringing and values.

  450. Well, dammit you are smart, and rational and funny. ( I attribute some of that to your being Canadian, at least the rational… I am not.)*You nailed it again. It is different.If one of us commits our lives to knitting in the way of an Olympian, maybe we get to decide this is worth a boycott, but I don’t think so.
    And the kleenex thing- if this becomes an art installation, I want to read about it, but NOT see it.
    *Not Canadian, I am rational.

  451. Hmm, my puppy eats Kleenex whenever she gets the chance. I never thought of her as a textile artist…. Welcome to the fold, Mocha!

  452. And this, my dear Stephanie (is that too familiar? If so, I apologize) is EXACTLY why I love you so. Ok, the birkenstocks, vegetarianism, pro-baby stuff, etc, etc, is all part of it too. Besides, you are funny as all get out.
    But the complete lack of reason, perspective, and appropriateness in response to this has left such a sour taste in my mouth. Sadly, I don’t think knitters are special people in any way. Knitters are people and knitting is amazing, but some knitters are awesome and some suck. Just like people do everywhere.
    Frankly, I’m disturbed that Ravelry moderators let things get so out of hand, letting post after post stand when people howled for blood, when they said “lets harass this person over the net, in his office, etc” but when people tried to step in and say “hey, that’s over the top” those people got moderated and banned from the thread. I don’t get that. And it happens again and again. I know Ravelry is a big enterprise, and I’m sure the people who run it are decent people, but this surely is a time to regroup and consider some of the policies that allow that to happen again and again on the big boards.
    Anyway, whatever. Have a great day, Stephanie. Enjoy your family, enjoy your friends, enjoy your knitting. Thanks for being out there and being wiling to share some of yourself with the rest of us. It brightens my day again and again.

  453. I 100% agree with what Alex said June 21, 2012 5:44 PM. Also, being an athelete and training 24/7 is difficult but requires total self-absorption. Knitters, on the other hand, take care of others: we knit bears for Aids children, make blankets for those who have no other way of staying warm, make hats for premmies, make toys and blankets for scared, abandoned animals in shelters and support so many other charities there is no way of naming them all.

  454. Sadly, when I read all the comments that “maybe this has taught them something,” what I really think is that we’ve taught these people that knitters really are b***** insane. I don’t think that’s the truth, but I think that’s the impression that has been made.
    I think I have to make another donation to the Fistula Foundation or Doctors without Borders now, because I need some perspective reinforcement here.

  455. Thank you, Stephanie. You have eloquently stated what needed to be said.

  456. Nicely stated comments. US copyright law does provide protection for words, terms, names when used in context. USOC gets to use “olympic” as relates to sport events for amateur athletes. Just as Olympic Paint has use for the paint & stain category. And Olympic College gets to use the word and let us not forget ship names, park names, streets and cities. All of those are perfectly OK. Perhaps the proverbial line was crossed when the yarn world (aka Ravelry) started using terms such as “marathon” to describe the activities. Some deep breathing is required. And I rest comfortable in the knowledge that – surely – no one participating in any USOC event or activity enhances his or her performance level though the psychological health benefits provided by knitting, crocheting, spinning, dyeing or participating in Ravelry.

  457. This post makes me think of my mum and all the other Canadian women in my family, with their “before we do something hasty, let’s look at this from the other person’s point of view.” My family moved to the USA when I was 9, and while I’ve had and continue to have a great life here, something in this post makes me regret not being fully Canadian anymore. (Except in the Olympics! Canada always!)
    It was sad and surprising to me because I always feel like “The Olympics” belong to everyone! How can you trademark it!? So thank you for explaining this; I didn’t really get that it was a legal issue between businesses. I didn’t mind the dismissive-to-knitters thing since a LOT of people don’t understand our feelings about knitting, and, well, I DON’T feel like I’m representing my country when I complete an epic project. It’s not my “life’s work,” though. I’m really impressed with those of you who knit and design as a *career* who are able to take this in stride!
    How about Yarn Decathalon? Go Team Classy!

  458. Steph: my powers of going batshit are amazing (I can get you testimonials) and I thought the letter was unnecessarily offensive, and the apology was not heartfelt. That said, maybe dedicating your life to running the fastest 100 meter in the world has its stupid aspects, but I don’t know a knitter (not even you, and I [who have knit over 50 years]shouldn’t be mentioned) who does what these insane atheletes do, every breath they take, every bite they eat, every moment they are awake, they train; for years. That’s why we watch. So, you are so right, and so diplomatic. Hurray for you.
    {still a rude letter, though}

  459. Hey, Carol at 5:12 on June 22, my puppy eats Kleenex™ (Better put that trademark notation in lest I upset a major company)whenever she can too! Maybe she and Mocha can start a social network site for fabric artist dogs . . . oh, that’s right, Oona doesn’t type.

  460. Very well put. Gives a good perspective. You did a good job of summarizing. Hang in there! (I’m not reading all the posts, I don’t want to read the negative comments!)

  461. Yesterday, admired your restraint. Today, admire your “other person’s point of view”. I still don’t think they should get to say that ‘Ravelympics’ is the same as saying ‘Olympics’ but I am not a lawyer.
    However, I think you’re wrong to say it’s just hurt feelings. No, it’s not. And maybe, you just don’t understand the kleenex art (HA! was that deliberate on the trademark name thing – should be tissue, right??)
    I was a photographer for a while, and there are plenty of people who don’t rate it as art, or as, I dunno, as high an art? as painting, etc. After all, you’re just pressing the button! Anyone could do it!
    But it’s nothing compared to the attitude people have toward fiber arts. There’s plenty of crapola fiber art out there, but there is plenty of crapola painting out there, yet painting never has to defend that it is art.
    It feels bad that you’re saying that while knitting is great, sometimes really great, it’s nothing to the candle we should hold up to the athletes. I think that attitude is as wrong as expecting test knitters to work for free… cuz it’s just knitting, right? Who would pay for that?

  462. I think they ‘got personal’ with the form letter simply to send the message that ‘this is not a form letter, we have actually looked at the site/event/naming’. They’ve gotta do what they’ve gotta do, I guess, but that was not well-played. More research would have revealed that the knitters support the games, not detract from them – proposing a partnership rather than alienating fans of he games wold have been a wiser choice. Tht said, I don’t think they really have a case for infringement, but, they will probably get their way for a number of reasons.
    I’ll just keep knitting.

  463. Ahh yes! Leave it to a fellow CANADIAN to quietly, gently, creatively explain our neighbours to the South. I lived there for 35 years, met the most amazing people, had a glorious time there..BUT they can be a tad ‘over the top’ sometimes ;)(just keepin’ it real here,lol!), so let’s all do two things today – Breathe In and Breathe Out…everything else will take care of itself….
    Keep Calm and Carry on Knitting!

  464. I love your work Stephanie, I really do, but this post feels like it’s sponsored and leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
    I’m not sure it was really necessary to point out that knitters are not Olympians (although it’s possible that some Olympic athletes do knit). Nurses aren’t doctors, and stay at home mums aren’t working out of the home mums, engineers aren’t accountants and so on…are these things just different, or do they have different worth than one another? And let’s for a minute say that yeah, surgeons are more worthy than lawyers (as a crude example)… Are athletes more worthy than any of these other things that require a huge amount of work and commitment ? And especially things that people may have to do even in the absence of passion…that they may have to do to feed a family and so on?
    Nope, knitters are not Olympians….but let’s leave off the implication that that makes them less than.

  465. Once again our fearless leader is the voice of calm and reason in a volatile situation. Thanks for your well thought out response Stepahnie

  466. Yup, that just about sums it up. Always great to read a well reasoned response that makes me think about something slightly differently. A timely reminder that things aren’t always what they seem.

  467. I’ve never commented before, and may never again, but wanted to thank you for reminding us that we’re grown-ups and not kids squabbling in the sandbox. Thanks for a calm,sane,well-mannered response.

  468. That Harlot, she’s one classy broad!
    And I wouldn’t have watched olympics anyway, they lost my attention years ago when they started letting professional athletes compete and pushed out the amateur athletes.

  469. adding my voice to the chorus thanking you. It’s not my argument (I’m not a member of Ravelery or even a knitter) but I read the articles and felt exactly what you did.
    Thanks

  470. one point here every one seems (or msst everyone seems) to be making the assumption that the olympics actually matter. Do they change anything for me or you? Just like people climbing mt everest = personal interest and accomplishment only. Dont even bother to turn on you TV – that is if you even still have one. Fewer viewers – less revenue and eventually the whole thing will dry and blow away when money cannot be made from it by companies and corporations. The host country never ever makes money and London hotels are begging for visitors as few of them are close to booked

  471. what’s in a name?
    that which we call a rose
    would by any other name
    smell just as sweet

  472. I love this. So much. The world became a better, saner place when you picked up blogging. Thank you for dose of compassionate reality.

  473. I think I’ll take up eating Kleenex. The end results will probably be as artistic as some of my knitting projects! Thank you for your mature, rational response. My own thoughts were similar, but I could never have articulated them so well. Cheers!

  474. Hey! Nice post! (and happy belated birthday). Jumping in to say that I appreciate your calmness and reason, particularly as relates to the trademark protection commentary.

  475. Thanks for your level-headed commentary on this. I don’t think the substance of what the USOC asked was so terrible — it was the way in which they did it. The USOC acted like a bunch of bullies, unfortunately reinforcing the ‘mean-jock-as-bully’ stereotype. Frankly, I think it’s reasonable to get upset about that. Not bat-sh*% insane, but upset nonetheless.

  476. I think that the USOC actually took notice of knitting in general might be a good thing even if they blundered in the wording. They have the right to the name. The world famous football game that is between two teams in the NFL did something similar over the past few years. You can’t say you are having a S**** B*** sale anymore if you a furniture store, for example. I am calling my observance of the former event “RO” and moving on with my life to more important things. I have a sweater to finish, damnit!

  477. Well, boiler-plate or not, it’s still rude. But legalities are often rude, and lawyers either forget or do not care that nobody likes to be chided. One day, I hope to meet somebody who can forget law school long enough to write a civil letter saying something like “We are so pleased you’re getting into the Games spirit, but unfortunately … and so as a result, we must ask you to … or change the name to something that does not reference the Games” and so on.
    Softly, softly.
    Having said all that, celebrating The Games That Must Not Be Named by taking on a project of serious magnitude is still a worthy exercise – and fun, too – and I don’t see why disliking a rude lawyer should keep me from enjoying a sporting event, so I shall cast on and continue.

  478. Thank you for such a wonderful response. Staying classy is the best way to deal with dissapointment. Your words were eloquently written and I hope everyone can see the reasoning behind what you wrote.

  479. “If you can keep your head when all around you are losing theirs….”
    You are to be commended for doing just so and for writing a wonderful essay!
    Just wanted to say this is a perfect example of people not agreeing with each other, but THANK YOU, Stephanie, for providing a place for intelligent and respectful discussions.

  480. Just a thought:
    If every Ravelry member knit/crochet/wove just one 4in./10cm. square [and sent them somewhere, but not my address ;)], we could blanket the ice in 14.3 North American hockey rinks (which are 200ft x 85ft) with about 10,000 afghans!! Or, volume-wise, fill a room 12ft x 12ft x 8.5ft if all squares are fingering weight yarn.
    So, may I suggest that everyone produce a square, and donate it to your nearest local organization who makes blankets for charity?

  481. Very well put! Everyone needs to keep calm and carry on! Keep on knitting and supporting the Olympics! If you’ve never been to the games you’ll never understand. 1996 Atlanta Olympics Womens Gymnastic finals – YouTube it – and then reconsider your anger!

  482. Thank you very much for your post, Stephanie. I’ve not been name calling or wielding a pitchfork, but I was indeed irked because I felt that tackling an Olympic (for me) knitting project while watching and cheering on the athletes was just the perfect fan-type thing I could do! I personally am not tied to the name Ravelympics, and I don’t care what the knitting equivalent of our event is called, I just felt insulted by the way the letter was written (and um, yah…it wasn’t addressed to me LOL). Thanks too for the reminder of the huge differences between athletes and artists…it’s a biggey.

  483. just plain hilarious apology – how many ways can they face-plant?!
    Stephanie: they obviously need someone with your brains to handle PR. Your take, per usual, was thoughtful & Very Cool

  484. Thank you.
    Your perspective is so refreshing in all of this. And yes, stay classy knitters. We’re better than that.

  485. You lost me with ‘stay classy. The reason why it is easy to denigrate knitting is because it is a hobby for women. For something to be valued in this world it doesn’t need to be SPORT and it doesn’t need to involve BLOOD, SWEAT AND BRUTE STRENGTH. You may concede that non-sporting interests are nowhere near as hallowed or Herculean. I do not. I am tired of rules and laws and copyrights that are about shutting down traditionally female pursuits of creativity: our books, our stories and tv dramas], our handicrafts and our knitting. How about we start trademarking cricket, football and fishing as passionately and issue notes to desist in their participation. I want the same people who police the singing of happy birthday on youtube to start taking down games of cricket, the useage of red cricket balls and the wearing of cricket whites as they have stolen someone else’s intellectual property. How about we hit back at sport in the same way that knitting is under attack.
    Why on earth do you think that I should be classy and ladylike about this? I am tired of the fact that the only herculean thing women receive more cheering for than men is childbirth or motherhood and even then in a patronising way.Female Olympic athletes might as well be knitting because their sporting prowess receives nowhere near the acclaim or financial sponsorship than that of their male colleagues.
    You aren’t an Olympic Athlete, but you have every right in the world to expect the same respect and acclaim for any knitting effort you have made that is ‘world class’.
    And why isn’t knitting, reading, childminding and cooking good enough to be Olympian?
    There is nothing classy about the sexism of the Olympic Games. Or about the USOC’s sexism. AND they managed to be sexist in their apology as well.
    But if you really feel badly about denigrating the hallowedness of olympic sport with your inferior female endeavours feel free to make them a handknit.
    I suggest we all knit them penises to strap on their heads.

  486. Will this forever hereafter be called “The competition ‘formerly known as’ the Ravelympics”? or TCFKATR (just to be safe :-)?

  487. I would be interested in reading all of the other USOC desist letters for comparison. Can they be subpoenaed? How many times do you think that USOC has needed to make a public apology for denigration. They seem to save their vitriol for knitting groups in particular as I can’t find any online evidence of any other group getting this kind of response and they must hand out quite a lot of them in any given year.
    So, I am going to assume that this is actually not your standard cease and desist by any means because it is rather denigrating and discriminatory.
    I wonder what their record of conduct is…?
    Out of the USOC’s 11-member Board of Directors, including the chairman of the USOC, only three are women. The USOC’s 58-member Executive Committee has 21 female members. Meanwhile, the 135-member International Olympic Committee (IOC) has 15 female members.
    Well that would be because there are in fact 120 more worthy men who have far more merit.
    It is apparently quite hard to find any women who merit being on an Olympic committee. Women apparently lack the subset of skills that enable them to do the job as well as men and they just don’t deserve to be on these committees…either that… or the IOC is incredibly sexist.
    Do you think that female coaches should receive less pay for coaching female Olympic athletes?
    Is this what classy looks like?

  488. Thank goodness they apologized. I wouldn’t want them to do anything like have any more than 13 women on a committee of 135. Their apology means more to me than providing equal opportunities for women or being respectful to other committees and organizations.
    To ask for anything more than an apology is such an over reaction. Insisting on equality and respect is not classy.

  489. Thanks for being the calming voice 🙂 The “Sting” of their words has lessened.

  490. Remember when the USOC sued the Gay Olympics 3 weeks before they opened, back in 1982? And how everyone thought that was normal, even though they still allowed Paralympics for handicapped people, because gays are, you know, not reputable enough to be sporty. So do I care about knitters now? Not in the least..
    We’ll simply note in passing that a (for profit, in a big way, multi-convicted of taking bribes) committee that was granted the use of Olympics is now appropriating everything down to any ending in “pics” :-). If people put up with that, it’s sad, but they do have a lot of lawyers..

  491. Well said, Stephanie.
    My DH reads your column regularly and he said it could have been worse: what if they called it the RavelryRace for the Cure and had the Komen people down on them, too?!?
    Yes, we all need to take a deep breath and remain calm and keep knitting (thanks EZ for that little saying).

  492. Excellent analysis and conclusion, Stephanie! Now we need to think of a really, really cool totally original name for this “Games knit along” activity and keep doing our thing under another banner.

  493. Great explanation. As I have a highly trained athlete for a son and there are some rumblings about the next Olympics I appreciate your very sane and balanced discussion here. I am in awe when I watch him run and he is in awe when he sees what I can knit. However, in the end I know I could teach him to knit well (if he had the time, patience or inclination) but I could never run like he can. But he would never diss my knitting so I’m glad the USOC apologized for their less than politic response!

  494. Thank you!!! I’m glad I missed this initial outrage, because it does bother me that the Olympics cares about Ravelympics (which actually leads to me watching even more of the games) – but you explain beautifully why they care, and why we should just change the name and continue to celebrate both our art and the athletes simultaneously.

  495. Thank you so much, Stephanie. Yours is an important voice in our community, and I hope people listen to you. I found the fuss pretty funny, actually, and I do hope Stephen Colbert does a segment on it. I try to keep in mind what is really important in life. Thanks again.