Working for Free – A list for clients

August 2nd, 2012 by Karen

My services are not free. I have worth. I have been doing this for more than 13 years. I deserve to be compensated fairly for my time and knowledge.

My prices are fair, reasonable and competitive. They are not inflated, padded or dishonest.

I will work with you to the best of my ability to come to a middle ground on pricing and services. This does not mean that you will get everything in my proposal for 1/4th the price.

I enjoy doing work for charities and non-profits. Just because you have yet to generate a profit does not make you a non-profit. There is a very big difference. (In fact, as I was writing this, we received a personal thank you from the founder of charity we help. Because of the help we provide, they were able to assist a 7 year old girl with Chordoma which is a very rare cancer and her family. I live for these emails.)

I am a small business. My fees are my lifeblood. They go to feed my children, to put shoes on their ever growing feet and to cover their medical expenses out of pocket. Not to buy fancy cars or boats or trips. I don’t get a Christmas bonus from my boss.

If you can’t afford my services, then you can’t afford to hire me right now. There are lots of things that I have to go without too. Perhaps in time, we can talk again.

I will give you free advice to a point. If you choose to not take it, that is your decision. Advice is just that. Advice. It is not a mockup or an in-depth analysis.

If you tell me in one breath that you’re a Fortune 500 company and in the next that you don’t have an analytics package installed, oh and you want me to work on commission only, there is very little chance that we will be working together.

I will not work with you if you are dishonest to your customers or sell shabby products. Period.

My personal credo is to never do anything that I would be embarrassed to explain to my father.

Posted in Life, Random Thoughts, Work | 0 Comments

Olympics, Knitting and Mascara

June 26th, 2012 by Karen

I like yarn. Let me rephrase that…I love yarn. I learned to crochet when I was very little, helped my grandma card and spin wool from her sheep into yarn, and then more recently, I re-learned how to knit. I’m proud that I’m adept at what is increasingly a lost art and that the women in my family found it an important enough skill to pass on to me. I have taught my eldest to crochet (she’s very good) and my youngest has mastered the daisy chain, though her attention wanders too much still to remember how to turn. I’m also a happy member of the community.

I am very disappointed in the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) as well as the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) for their recent deplorable treatment of knitters, crocheters and fiber artists at large.

The LOCOG partnered with for a London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Inspire Project. Their neat project allowed anyone to contribute by making a cushion from British wool to be given as a personal welcome gift from the people of Britain to as many as possible of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic athletes. And then LOCOG backed out of the distribution plans AND the reason they gave for the scrapped plans for a distribution booth in the Olympic Village Plaza was that the space would be used instead for PAYING SPONSORS. Luckily, the fine folks at Woolsack have found a way to distribute some of the 5000 already handmade cushions (which weren’t free to make btw) directly to athletes and they’re working hard to get the rest out.

The USOC recently sent a lovely cease and desist letter to Ravelry due to the ‘Ravelympics’, a fun event that pits knitters and crocheters against the clock in various tests of skill. (Imagine knitting an entire adult sized sweater in a matter of weeks…when normally it can take months.) It’s a test of endurance, skill, and perseverance. Sound familiar? In any case, the letter and subsequent lack-luster apology has folks in a knot because of two things:

From the original letter:

“The USOC is responsible for preserving the Olympic Movement and its ideals within the United States. Part of that responsibility is to ensure that Olympic trademarks, imagery and terminology are protected and given the appropriate respect. We believe using the name “Ravelympics” for 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.”

From the apology:

“The letter sent to the organizers of the Ravelympics was a standard-form cease and desist letter that explained why we need to protect our trademarks in legal terms. Rest assured, as an organization that has many passionate knitters, we never intended to make this a personal attack on the knitting community or to suggest that knitters are not supportive of Team USA.

We apologize for any insult and appreciate your support. We embrace hand-crafted American goods as we currently have the Annin Flagmakers of New Jersey stitching a custom-made American flag to accompany our team to the Olympic Games in London. To show our support of the Ravelry community, we would welcome any handmade items that you would like to create to travel with, and motivate, our team at the 2012 Games.

(All italics are mine.)

In plain non-lawyer speak:
“Take down your stuff because it insults us.” and “Oh, we’re -really- sorry. It was a standard letter. Srsly. They all include stuff about knitting. Give us free stuff.”

Cast off, USOC. Yarn is expensive and my time is worth even more. My projects are handmade with love, for people or causes I care about (such as Operation Gratitude and Project Linus) not for snotty, selfish, sniveling companies that hide behind pieces of paper. I would be -happy- to give something to a Team USA athlete…they work hard, strive to always improve their skills, and are DESERVING. You, however, are not.

To top it all off (and the reason that I’m writing this and not just grumbling about it over my latest amigurumi) is that YOU are insulting to women athletes and that -really- took the cake. Here you are, complaining about how a 2 million strong group on a social media site (not to mention a large portion of the more than 50 million of us in the US alone) is “denigrating” and “disrespecting” your brand and you turn right around and take money from P&G to promote “COVERGIRL Olympic Games Limited-Edition Packaging” for mascara and lipstick.

Sorry, but implying that a woman athlete needs to have makeup on to be “strong” and “beautiful” is complete and utter bunk and you should be ashamed of your behavior. The women in this ad ARE strong and beautiful, but that’s because they worked their butts off EVERY DAY for YEARS to be the best they could be.

You are NOT about the hard work.

You are simply another money-grubbing corporate entity with no grasp of who actually sits on the couch and watches your sponsors’ ads while we knit and crochet and I refuse to buy anything with the Olympic Rings on it, despite being a loyal 20+ year customer of CoverGirl mascara.

Time for me to find a new brand.

Posted in Random Thoughts | 1 Comments

Of Conferences and Creepy People

May 24th, 2012 by Karen

Last week, I was pleased to be able to attend two wonderful conferences in the Austin area and for the most part, I had a great time. For the most part. Oh how one little prepositional phrase can change the entire meaning of a sentence. The conferences themselves were really wonderful. The speakers had a lot of great information (though I must admit, I was a speaker at one of them, so I might be a smidge biased), there was some great opportunities for networking as well as some really fun activities. That being said, there was this disturbing undercurrent present that a week later is still really bothering me.

Jerk #1
The first night of the first conference, there was a rooftop networking party hosted by several companies and when I arrived, the party was in full swing. This means that while I was completely sober, there were a lot of folks who were well into their cups due to the open bar. I found a knot of my close industry friends and was there only about 10 minutes when this incredibly drunk guy came up to me, told me I was pretty, told me his name and what kind of company he worked for, then unceremoniously gave me a terribly uncomfortable slithering hug and kissed the side of my neck. In retrospect, there’s a 1000 things the angry Xena in me would/should have done to the jerk, but I was too stunned to even react. All I could think was “Did that just ACTUALLY happen?”. Now of course I’m kicking myself for not at least dumping his drink on him or making him sing soprano for several days.

Jerk #2
The second disturbing thing that happened to me personally was later in the week at the second conference. Breaking from the traditional “stand around in a room” type of networking, we had a little networking R&R out on a lake. I’m a total water-baby (despite my fair skin, I spent more than 6 hours of that day in the water between the lake and the pool…thank you SPF 100 sunscreen!) and a lot of folks were swimming, so it wasn’t long before I was in the water. I was so there. One of the boats had a slide on it and after a bunch of my friends went down it, I was goaded into doing so as well. Now, I’m no longer the svelte lacrosse & hockey player I was in my 20s and I’m much curvier than I used to be, but as I came down the slide and into the lake, one of the childish guys in the water hollered up at me “Show us your boobs!”. What. The. Hell. I’m sorry, but last I had checked, my fabulous hubby was still home in California as our three amazing kids had a lot of activities going on and we both couldn’t get away and he’s the only one remotely even allowed to make such an request…and certainly not at an industry event! After I came up from my slide, this guy with a frat boy mentality and half full of beer starts treading water next to me and making suggestive comments. After a moment or two, I actually swam over near the conference organizer and some of his staff who were also swimming just to get away from the guy. Later that night in speaking with another friend, I came to find out that the exact same guy had made her a completely inappropriate proposition that same day.

I heard other stories while I was in Austin, but since those were third party, I’m not going to include them here. Suffice it to say however, this sort of misogynistic behavior (drunken or not) is wholly inappropriate AT ANY TIME and when they happen at a conference is it certainly a horrible reflection on the company those two guys represent. (And yes, I haven’t named names or companies, but I will certainly not being buying any ink or shoes online from either of them. And the shoe guy? I was a customer. Not any more.)

Folks, if you can’t handle your liquor, don’t drink at an industry event. Even if it’s free. Free booze does not give you free license to be a jerk or come on to every person with a XX chromosome in a 100 yard radius. Your lewd comments to ANYONE are unwelcome. Just because I’m traveling alone/a girl/kinda geeky/”insert your own adjectives here” doesn’t mean that I’m so lonely that I’m going to jump at the chance to run to your hotel room. Nor that I want you to follow me to mine. Quite the contrary.

This is a very serious issue and I’m still kind of pissed off at myself for not making a huge stink and throwing a fit about it right there and then. (I still haven’t really figured out why I didn’t. I didn’t want to embarrass them? I didn’t want to make a scene? All the reasons that come to mind are terrible.) According to RAINN, every 2 minutes someone in the US is sexually assaulted (this includes sexual harassment) and 1 out of every 6 American women and 1 out of every 33 American men have been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. I’m not trying to be alarmist, but this is a significant portion of the population…just take a look at your list of friends on Facebook and do the math.

I can’t say what I’ll do the next time it happens to me (cynical note: there was no “if” in that statement), but I hope that I’ll have enough backbone to stand up for myself right when it happens. In the meantime, I will continue to surround myself with loving, good-hearted people that I know have my back and make sure that I’m never somewhere alone while I’m traveling.

And to the two gentlemen who took it upon themselves to insist on escorting me all the way back to my hotel room door at the resort on two subsequent nights simply because they were concerned for my safety, thank you.

Posted in Life, Random Thoughts | 0 Comments


January 8th, 2009 by Karen

I’ve been rather introspective lately…thinking about life and the dynamics that cast eddys and waves across my existance and I’ve started to notice I have cycles of creativity. I’m sure everyone goes through patches of writers block and such, but right now, I simply long for more. To do more, to be more.

I want to wander into the woods for an hour simply to listen to my heartbeat and hear my breath mix with that of the trees.

I want to dance free and vibrant like I was 5 and didn’t care what anyone thought.

I want to break out my acrylics and delightedly fingerpaint.

I want to spin florid words across crisp linen with purple ink and a fountain pen.

I want to listen to jazz all day long and sing and weep.

I want to sit in a meadow and eat fresh picked blackberries that stain my fingers.

I want to wander through antique stores and smile at the trinkets and forgotten memories of souls long since past.

I want to sit in silence and weave stories from the depths of my being.

I want to cast hugs and kisses upon old friends.

I want to cry out the joy in my heart from the highest mountain and whisper it to the lowliest pebble.

I want to ground myself to the earth and strain to kiss the sky.

Posted in Poetry & Writing, Random Thoughts | 0 Comments


May 15th, 2008 by Karen

Well, I’ve been a little neglectful of my blog lately…no, I take that back. I’ve been neglectful of -this- blog, simply because I’ve had so many writing irons in the fire, I haven’t had the time to come here to write lately.

It feels good to actually be writing again. It’s been ages since I sat down to be creative, to draw the images out of my tumultous noggin and get them on paper. Most people I know like to type nowadays. Me? I prefer the nice, lined composition books…you know the ones that are about 7″x10″ and you used in high school? Those and a crisp black pen. There is something imminently satisfing about filling sheet after sheet with scrawling words dancing across the page. I’ve rediscovered how dynamic my writing can be, just in how it looks…more fluid with prose, striking and harsh with action.

I finished part three of a story I’ve been working on, but I have yet to type it up. I just posted the second part to the Cape community and I’m hoping for some good feedback. We’ll have to see. If it goes well, I might try my hand at NaNoWriMo again this year. The goal with that is to write a 50,000 word novel between November 1 and 30. At this point, my November is free of work related travel, so it’s a possibility.

Anyhow, even if I don’t participate, I’m having fun putting pen to paper again.

Posted in City of Heroes / City of Villains, Life, Random Thoughts | 0 Comments

Delicious Root Beer

March 10th, 2008 by Karen

I haven’t always enjoyed drinking root beer. When I was a kid, the only way I liked it was at the A&W as a root beet float and even then I just had a Coke ice cream float half the time. It wasn’t until college that I truly discovered how much I liked root beer…real root beer. Not that sticky sweet canned stuff. The deliciously creamy brewed root beer.

My first taste of good root beer was Thomas Kemper’s craftbrewed root beer. I was in heaven…a smooth taste with just the right amount of bite. It’s made in small batches, so it’s always good. It was a tad spendy, so it wasn’t in my student budget too often, but I enjoyed it when I could.

Also when I was at college, I got my first taste of fresh, on-tap root beer, courtesy of a lunch with a few co-workers and our physics professor, Bill Mackie. It was phenomenal. Period. If you every have the chance to visit the Golden Valley Brew Pub in McMinnville, Oregon you absolutely must try their root beer. It’s sweet and bitter and just fantastic. If I could get it down here in California, I would!

So once I graduated and moved back here, I could no longer find Thomas Kemper at the store and tried several other “bottled” brands until I found Henry Weinhard’s root beer. Also delicious and smooth, it tastes great although I’ve found it seems to foam up more than the Thomas Kemper does. It too is a bit spendy and both brands are available now in my area at about $6 for a case of six.

If you haven’t tried a real root beer, I would definitely recommend you run out and try some!

Posted in Random Thoughts | 0 Comments