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KNITTERS WHO ARE DESTROYING THE OLYMPICS

socklessStephenColbert.jpg
Dear Ann,
I interrupt this delightful virtual book party for Bowling Avenue with this shocking news bulletin: knitters–our people! our friends!–ARE DESTROYING THE OLYMPICS.
By now you may have heard about a letter, from a legal clerk writing on behalf of the U.S. Olympic Committee, to Casey Forbes at Ravelry.com. The letter asks Ravelry to stop using the name “Ravelympics” because it infringes on the trademarked words and symbols of the Olympics. The full text of the letter can be found here.
The lawyer in me does not get too fluffed up when a trademark owner becomes aggressive, or even over-aggressive, about protecting a trademark. I may disagree with their judgment. I may suggest to the USOC that Major League Baseball feels that it’s a positive thing to have knitters organizing happy Stitch & Pitch outings to their ballparks. (But then again, we don’t called these events “Ravel-Aseball.”) They own the thing; it’s their call. I doubt that anybody would be too upset about changing the name of the Ravelympics to something like the Ravelry Games. But the letter went further. It said:
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.

DENIGRATE? Reading that gratuitous bit of meanspirited nonsense made me–and apparently every other knitter who is on Twitter and/or Ravelry–mad. So, let me get this straight: organizing a fun, tongue-in-cheek worldwide knitting event to coincide with all of us sitting in front of our televisions watching the Olympic games (and commercials) is on a par with say, a doping scandal? It’s denigrating to the athletes? One starts to wonder if anyone reviewed this “clerk’s” letter. Nuanced, it ain’t.
The whole thing reminded me of one of Stephen Colbert’s “PEOPLE WHO ARE DESTROYING AMERICA” segments. You know, where he exposes the deep damage done to the social fabric and the Values We Hold Dear that is being done by, say, a lady who wants to air-dry her laundry to save energy, in a community that has a strict rule against clotheslines.
Stephen Colbert needs to expose this travesty! He needs to protect the pure and noble Olympics from tarnishment by association with millions of handknitters watching the games this summer.
In an optimistic but not too strenuous effort to make this happen, I tweeted Mr. Colbert. (He is @StephenAtHome on Twitter.) I went so far as to promise him that if he did a piece on the Knitters Who Are Destroying the Olympics, there would be a little something in it for him: a lifetime supply of handknit socks.
(I know I should have asked you all first, but in my enthusiasm I thought, “well of COURSE everybody will knit him socks if he does this great thing.” Twitter-knitters have been volunteering like crazy; it’s very heartwarming. Stephen’s feet are going to be toasty.)
FAQ
The Internet says that Stephen Colbert wears a Size 11 shoe. (I’m not sure it matters. In the past Mr. Colbert has been very generous in donations to veterans’ and soliders’ causes, and I suspect that if he had too many socks he’d know where to send them to do the most good.)
The Internet says that Stephen Colbert’s fan mail address is:
Stephen Colbert
c/o The Colbert Report
513 W 54th St.
New York, NY 10019

You know what to do. Tweet him, let him know you’re knitting a pair of socks for him. Let Stephen Colbert know that you’re a KNITTER WHO IS DESTROYING THE OLYMPICS.
Love,
Kay
P.S. Tip: There is a sock pattern NAMED IN HONOR OF STEPHEN COLBERT in our second book. I did not think of this until after I made Mr. Colbert the lifetime-socks offer. I don’t expect anybody to believe this but it’s true. Any sock pattern will do. Just make sure they’re your usual, lovely handknit socks.
P.S. Kind people have offered to drive a truckload of the socks to the Colbert Report’s offices. That would be awesome, and maybe that will happen. But for now, let’s keep it simple and send the man his socks in the mail.
P.S. Other kind people have suggested that we support Ravelry by helping with its legal costs to respond to the USOC’s letter. I am going to follow this on Ravelry and wait for Ravelry to tell us how we can help.
P.S. There is a Socks For Stephen group over on Ravelry.com. 77 members already. Join up and tell us what you’re knitting!

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66 Comments

66 Comments

  1. go kay go!!!!! i want to see you and ann on the colbert report, handing him a pair of socks. (= i’ve posted a link to your post in my ravelry group and i’m heading off to compose a tweet… xo

  2. I love the zeal and quick action! The USOC only seems ridiculous with this letter and many others this year.

  3. TWEETED! @casey0222 although I thought later I should have claimed schmoo. I’ll totally hijack my father’s christmas socks for Colbert. AND I DON’T EVEN HAVE CABLE! I’ll have to get the sockless father to DVR it.

  4. This is a fantastic idea and a great post. Love it!!

  5. clearly this calls for socks!

  6. clearly this calls for socks!

  7. clearly this calls for socks!

  8. All the junk and junk food they’ve let corporations slap the Olympics logo on, and they think KNITTING is denigrating their image?!?! O.o
    Is there anything else we can do? Is there someone at the USOC we can spam with emails of outrage?

  9. You go girl!

  10. INTO THE BREACH!!!!!!
    I’VE GOT MY COLINETTE JITTERBUG IN RED-STATE RED AND I’M NOT AFRAID TO USE IT.
    I have been waiting four years to make these socks, and the time is NOW.

  11. Way cool. And Stephen is pretty partial to us knitters….He’s received a scarf he’s worn on the air and the that night he was sick and snuggled in an afghan came from Rav members. This is going to be good!!!!! Starting my socks now!

  12. One of the sponsors for the Paralympics is Dow Chemicals (of Bhopal Disaster fame). And they’re offended by knitting – you couldn’t make it up.

  13. If he does the segment, I am in!! I will knit a pair of socks for him!

  14. It’s an outrage, indeed! How could anyone think that sending an insulting and denigrating message to a group with 2 million members would not raise a stink?
    Plus also, we are now all using the word “denigrate” a million times more than we did last week, so some good has come of this.
    (In book news, apparently the book I ordered from Parnassus will indeed be autographed, so I am pleased!)
    Knit on!

  15. and apparently…
    ‘A butcher in Weymouth has been told to remove his display of sausages in the shape of the Olympic rings. A small village in Surrey has been stopped from running an “Olympicnic” on its village green. Pub landlords have been warned they cannot advertise that the Olympics are being televised inside. Athletes have been forbidden from tweeting about brands. Last week a “flaming torch breakfast baguette” being offered at a café in Plymouth to celebrate the arrival of the Olympic torch was outlawed by the brand protection team. In a bizarre touch, staff will even scour the bathrooms of all the Olympic venues and remove or cover the logos of all non-sponsored brands that appear inside the bathrooms.’
    I’m a depressed Londoner and knitter.

  16. I love the Internet. Only here would a ridiculous cease-and-desist letter result in a campaign to knit Steven Colbert socks (I am sock! So can you!)

  17. Let’s also inform the non cable folks. ABC, CBS, Public TV, NBC, BBC, can we do aljaheri without getting on a watch list?

  18. I don’t currently have socks on my needles. Off to Ravelry to check stash and patterns!

  19. clearly this calls for socks!

  20. To anyone who complains about not having cable: We watch all our shows on hulu.com – free and they post the shows the day after they air (at least for colbert and daily show, etc)!

  21. Miss Manners once said “Please do not – repeat not – make a hostile approach to knitters. Have you not noticed they are armed with long, pointy sticks?” The USOC should take heed. And lighten up, for pete’s sake. This is as ridiculous as the Susan G. Komen foundation suing anyone who uses “for the cure” in their fundraising.

  22. I’m SO in. And there couldn’t be better timing since there’s a stinking heat wave here so sock knitting is required to prevent heat stroke from my larger knitting projects.

  23. I’m in too! Rat Bastards.

  24. Okright, so just how redunkulous can things get? THIS illustrates just how– just — oh MAN, truth is stranger than fiction. IMHO, knitting and the Olympics go together, like your foot slipping into that delicious hand-knit merino sock. I’d laugh, except this is serious, man! (Also? Knitting is also the reason that I know who Stephen Colbert is at all!) Sock knitting to the rescue! CaN’t wait to see how this plays out. Hopefully the Olympic Committee will come to its senses and realize just how– just how– INEFFABLE this is!

  25. I am not a lawyer, but the USOC is on weak footing trying to to trademark a term that precedes the law they are trying to use to “protect” it (by more than 3000 years).
    Even better, I hope they realize that the modern games evolved from an annual contest including “a blindfolded wheelbarrow race” and “the old woman’s race for a pound of tea”.
    Srsly. I didn’t steal those event names from a Monty Python sketch:
    http://bit.ly/KnoFEe

  26. I made the most wonderful shaw during the last winter olympics and it didn’t hurt that I was stuck on the couch recovering from salmonella. Doesn’t the Olympic committee have anything better to do?

  27. I have been reluctant to take up knitting socks. The addiction appears worrisome. And yet, you’ve offered me a chance to wave my knitting needles in the virtual face of the USOC and help make clear that knitters are to be feared, but not because we would like to have a bit of fun supporting the Olympics (that seems to deserve a small case ‘o’ at the moment). Time to go buy tiny point needles and dig out MDK, Part Deux

  28. I’m just saying…
    KING HENRY V:
    “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
    … The game’s afoot:
    Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
    Cry ‘God for Knitters, Crocheters, and Saint Bob!'”
    (sorry Will S., no copyright)
    (and I only know this from The Big Bang Theory) (copyright)
    WIKI: (copyright)
    Movies and popular culture often misuse the DEFCON system by “going to DEFCON 5″ during a state of emergency.[5] In fact, DEFCON 5 is the lowest state of readiness. DEFCON 1 has never been called for.

  29. Great post.

  30. I have resisted twitter thus far. I may have to join just to encourage Stephen to put this on the air. I’m also on board with getting other news outlets involved! Protecting their name is one thing, but stating that a light-heartedly named kitting event is denigrating to the athletes and their efforts is idiotic! I’ve met some former Olympians, and I think they’d rather have the socks that the USOC’s over zealous legal team.

  31. Am I the only one here who is slightly ( well, maybe a little more than that) annoyed with the ‘sports are better than the arts’ subtext? In a day when programs in the arts are begin eliminated from our schools, but, God forbid!,we should touch the football program!, you think that a an organization with such a high profile would do their homework before sending out such letters!

  32. I think the cat is out of the bag already with Ravolympics, Knitolympics, Stitcholympics, and every other “—olympic” themed item. I’m guessing the USOC attorneys have mounted their high horses in search of some billable hours.
    I am hereby promising to do my part in contributing to Colbert’s sock collection. What are his color preferences?

  33. I love this, and I’m IN! Well, in a lazy, heel-less, toe-less (shiftless?) way. I’m going to make yoga socks.
    Also, I echo Elizabeth: “i want to see you and ann on the colbert report, handing him a pair of socks.” Oh, yeah. That would be a happy day. AND it could be more publicity for Bowling Avenue!

  34. Will I get arrested if I knit socks with the five Olympic rings on them?
    Casting on now. Maybe one foot rings, one foot Union Jack.

  35. Go Kay, go! Personally, I’d like to see you, Ann, and Casey on the Colbert Report. I think the three of you would do a bang-up job of denigrating our Olympic athletes to the nth degree with all the knitting you would present to him.
    I don’t do socks (and actually I crochet far more than knit), but I’ll still be rooting for Colbert to pick up the story.

  36. Excellent idea on the Socks for Stephen. As a lawyer, I thought almost the same thing you did about that letter (up to and including the bit about the legal intern/law clerk).

  37. I can’t believe this! It actually hurts my feelings as a knitter. That is so sad. And infuriating! I would TOTALLY knit Stephen Colbert a pair of socks if he can publicize this and get them to eat their words. How dare they claim to represent the greatest of humanity? What a joke.

  38. oops posted at the first half.
    I happen to have a finished pair with no name on them. They are just waiting for this moment. Knit On!
    Can’t wait to see how this unravels :)

  39. I love your idea! I am saddened and a little amused by this whole thing at the same time. Colbert is THE perfect choice.

  40. I’m in!

  41. Socks will be a bit much for me, but I’m all for sending him a lovely hat :)

  42. We have had this sort of nonsense over all kinds of things here in the UK since we are hosting. It kind of makes your belief in humanity waver… May I suggest that the legal clerk who had the misfortune to have this one cross his desk might be suitably repaid by some knitted gifts… I believe his name is Brett…

  43. While I know you are mainly a knitting site, so it seems sensible to call for knitted socks, I wouldn’t be adverse to crocheting up a pair for Mr. Colbert just to add to the sock movement.

  44. During the last Winter Olympics, the athletes entered wearing knitted hats, and the skiers wore official knitted hats with the Olympic rings on them. You can look it up! So why suddenly now have they turned against knitting? (I know, I know, it’s a copyright thing with the name, but still.)

  45. File this one under DON”T MESS WITH KAY . It is a brilliant reaction to the DENIGRATION of Olympics. I am looking forward to seeing his earnest segment on the subject :-)

  46. Ann & Kay, are y’all going to make that Colbert sock pattern from your 2nd book available on Ravelry? Then we can all link our projects to it.

  47. Love it love it love it. Thank you!

  48. This is brilliant! Nothing makes the already ridiculous more fun than Stephen Colbert. You rock Kay!

  49. This is brilliant! Nothing makes the already ridiculous more fun than Stephen Colbert. You rock Kay!

  50. When I read about the WoolSack mess in Britain a few weeks ago, my first thought was….actually, never mind my first thought. My SECOND thought was, “what will our own USOC do that will make me wince with disgust?” Yesterday I found out. Sigh.

  51. I call shotgun on the sock delivery truck!

  52. I have the same comment as I have for that woman who knit a cover for the Wall St. bull statue: Don’t you have any grandchildren? I have 8 and they all love my hand knit socks. So I will not be able to participate. (Also I belong to the Big Apple Knitters Guild and need to make an entry the MDK contest at our September Luncheon, where the MDK ladies are speakers!) But I am sure the veterans will love Colbert’s surplus socks.

  53. I have the same comment as I have for that woman who knit a cover for the Wall St. bull statue: Don’t you have any grandchildren? I have 8 and they all love my hand knit socks. So I will not be able to participate. (Also I belong to the Big Apple Knitters Guild and need to make an entry the MDK contest at our September Luncheon, where the MDK ladies are speakers!) But I am sure the veterans will love Colbert’s surplus socks.

  54. I have the same comment as I have for that woman who knit a cover for the Wall St. bull statue: Don’t you have any grandchildren? I have 8 and they all love my hand knit socks. So I will not be able to participate. (Also I belong to the Big Apple Knitters Guild and need to make an entry the MDK contest at our September Luncheon, where the MDK ladies are speakers!) But I am sure the veterans will love Colbert’s surplus socks.

  55. Ha! Well, this is a brilliant idea. I actually live in the town with the clothesline lady and I can tell you, it’s still the talk of the town. I will be thrilled to hear that you and Ann make the Colbert show. It’s seems the least he could do after you named a sock pattern for him!

  56. The ancient Olympics featured art, poetry, and plays as well as sports. It was about celebrating all “culture” not just amazing pecs. Just sayin’ USOC.

  57. You can’t make this stuff up.
    Lest we forget: These are the same high-minded people, I suppose, who offered prostitutes as bribes to members of the International Olympic committee back in Salt Lake City.

  58. Since I am a terribly slow knitter, I will have to help out through Ravelry. I hate how people seem to be so quick to take back their names, rather than see the use as a tribute, as commonly intended. Ugh. So quick to take offense/worry about possible lost revenue rather than embracing the fun of it all.

  59. As I tweeted the other night: There would be no Nordic ski sweaters without knitters. Amirite??

  60. I am in! May I also suggest that as an addition (to support the athletes of team USA) that we make hand made goodies for any of them that may appear on his show after the Olympics? They shouldn’t have to suffer due to the lack of class on the USOCs part…

  61. Don’t forget to mention to Steven that you’re destroying Colbert by naming a sock pattern after him. Double points!

  62. As someone new to the knitting world I am a bit taken aback by the vitriol directed to the USOC. And I find it laughable that you (the knitters upset by this) think Stephen Colbert is going to take up arms against the USOC. This is the man who personally helped fund U.S. Speedskating in the last winter Olympics, when one of their primary funders (A foreign bank – mind you) went bankrupt. That shortfall of $300,000 would have severely hurt the teams ability to train and compete on a world stage. When you say it isn’t about the athletes themselves you are wrong. The USOC is what helps make it possible for these Olympic athletes to compete. I am addicted to knitting as much as the next person on the comment board but I am not under any delusion that the art/activity/craft/livelihood (for some) that I practice while sitting on my coach in my spare time is the same as what an Olympic level athlete does. How many of you change your diet to further your knitting? How many of you can’t go to a birthday party because that is a “long scarf” day? How many of you put over 8 hours a day into your knitting for one glorious moment? How many of you have made mistakes that you can’t just unknit? On one hand I think the choice of words was unfortunate and insulting, however, how many of you can say that you haven’t wrote or said something that you regretted later? A little perspective would be nice. Rant over, back to my knitting!

  63. Kay, Didn’t we consider sending Mr. Colbert a knit condom amulet a couple of years ago? Might divert him…

  64. My thought is not that the protest and attempt to enlist Mr. Colbert’s support is so much about having our knitting in a knot about a perfectly legitimate legal request. It is about the fact that someone in their legal department felt that Ravelry would not understand or acknowledge the correspondence without the insulting and mean spirited language. That is what I believe is at the heart of the issue. Instead of starting out on the footing of equal and intelligent adults; the author of this letter reduced their self and the organization they represent to the level of a school yard bully. And I think that the idea that thousands of people employing their hard won skill and God given talent in SUPPORT of the Olympics could be taken as an insult to the athletes would appeal to Mr. Colbert’s sense of humor in the ridiculous. On that note, I don’t do socks, but I am perfectly willing to contribute some mittens…. :-)

  65. Why did I wait so long to open your site? I have your first book, already read and giggled and laughed at. Ditto your website. How dare the Olympics? Amazing that “they” just “can”, huh? Kind of an insult to the Olympic entrants in an odd, backwards sort of way. Maybe people should knit wristbands:-)!!! for all the Olympic entrants!! That would show the committee!