Stitch 'n Bitch
Stitch 'n Bitch is a phrase that has been used to refer to social knitting groups since at least World War II. Before the slang term “Stitch ‘n Bitch” was used, groups of women in the 1940s would join to knit and talk in organized Stitch and Bitch clubs. The term was further used in the 1980s as part of the book Social History of American knitting by Anne Macdonald. It is in 2003 that Stitch 'n Bitch: The Knitters Handbook was published as the first in a series of best-selling instructional books on knitting and crochet all titled with the phrase Stitch 'n Bitch. It is as a result to the success of the books that the modern day knitting groups known as Stitch ‘n Bitch, have emerged in cities around the world. The groups, mainly women, meet to knit, stitch and talk. Nowadays, the groups have been analyzed by scholars as expressions of resistance to major political, social and technological change in Western societies. Furthermore, the term Stitch ‘n Bitch is now used by women from across the globe to connect with others in the virtual space seeing as the term has re-emerged in a world where the public sphere is the cyberspace.
With over 1460 groups registered Stitch ‘n Bitch groups in 289 cities worldwide, the social knitting movement has demarked itself as a popular social gathering for avid knitters.
Stitch 'n Bitch is a name used by knitting groups that meet on a weekly or monthly basis at locations throughout the world. This use of the term originates as early as the Second World War. In 1999, Debbie Stoller started a Stitch 'n Bitch group in NYC's East Village, which was open to anyone who wanted to come to knit along or learn to knit. In 2000, she wrote about her groups in BUST magazine, of which she is the editor-in-chief. Brenda Janish read the article and started the Chicago Stitch 'n Bitch group. That article inspired Vickie Howell to start the Los Angeles Stitch 'n Bitch group and later the Austin Stitch 'n Bitch group. Like Stoller's original group, today's Stitch 'n Bitch clubs are generally casual groups of knitters who meet in public spaces such as bars or cafes for socializing and sharing knitting advice. These groups are free or small fee required memberships and open to the public, and are listed in a directory of worldwide knitting groups that was started by Janish and today is maintained by Stoller: Official Home of Stitch 'n Bitch. As of 2010, the site lists over 700 such groups.
A 2003 book by Debbie Stoller, Stitch 'n Bitch : The Knitter's Handbook, sold almost 200,000 copies in the first six months of publication. The book states that Debbie Stoller founded New York City's first Stitch 'N Bitch knitting group. In January 2004, Newsweek reported that Stoller's New York group had inspired spin-offs in Chicago and Los Angeles. A second book in the series, Stitch 'n Bitch Nation includes many vignettes from groups located across America as well as international locations such as England and Japan. A third book in the series, Stitch 'n Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker, is a primer on crochet, and the fourth book in the series, Son of Stitch 'n Bitch is a book of men's patterns A fifth book is scheduled for publication in Fall 2010.
Stitch by Stitch Crochet
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Debbie Stoller's third publification Stitch 'n Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker, came out in 2006. Stoller's span from knitting to now crocheting opened her up to a whole new audience. Though, she wasn't able to complete the book all by herself. Forty women contributed their own impressive crocheting designs for the book. The book is also an editorial on how to crochet. Once the basics are covered She goes on to every type of stitch possible, from half double crochet to double crochet, triple, double triple, and even a triple triple stitch. Next she demonstrated the construction of the stitches by the creation of swatches that readers would make to practice. The last two-hundred pages of the book are in the category, Crochet Away. This section is full of colorful pictures and tons of pattern designs, like: sweaters, hats, purses, slippers, skirts, gloves, jewelry, and even bathing suits. 
From 2005 to 2008, Stitch 'n Bitch was the focus of a trademark dispute.
Sew Fast Sew Easy legal actions
In June 2005, the company Sew Fast Sew Easy filed a trademark application for Stitch & Bitch to designate a line of knitting and sewing supplies. As of 2007 this application was suspended. In fall 2005, due to letters claiming trademark infringement from Sew Fast/Sew Easy's lawyers, knitting groups that had accounts with CafePress were forced to remove all items featuring the phrase "Stitch 'n Bitch". Local groups that communicated with each other through Yahoo! Groups were similarly forced to remove "Stitch 'n Bitch" from the name and description of their group. Some groups were deleted, but most groups were able to change their name on Yahoo! to SNB. CafePress and Yahoo! do not evaluate merits of infringement claims, they just protect their interest by removing disputed content.
Debbie Stoller's legal actions
In May 2004, Stoller made four trademark applications regarding the term Stitch 'N Bitch:
- Relating to the book series authored by Stoller
- For a line of bags and cases marketed for knitting materials and supplies
- Relating to a knitting show on television
- For a brand of knitting kits
In July 2005, these four trademark applications were denied for being confusingly similar to that of Sew Fast/Sew Easy. In November 2005, Stoller filed a petition with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel Sew Fast/Sew Easy's trademark Stitch & Bitch Café. In August 2006, Stoller's four trademark applications were reinstated.
In February 2006 a website was started at the internet address freetostitchfreetobitch.org, calling for a boycott on Sew Fast/Sew Easy. The boycott was covered in the summer 2006 edition of Knit.1 magazine and the fall 2006 edition of Vogue Knitting. In 2008, after an agreement was reached between Stoller and SFSE, the call for a boycott was ended.
In 2008, Sew Fast Sew Easy and Debbie Stoller reached a settlement in which Debbie Stoller retained the use of the mark in knitting while Sew Fast Sew Easy retains the use for sewing. Since then all four of Stoller's trademarks have now been registered.
The Sew Fast Sew Easy store closed in 2012.
In recent years, the Stitch ‘n Bitch movement has been considered as a means of reclaiming women’s domestic work in feminist circles. Not only have groups officially been formed through website use, but groups of women on university campuses have also followed the trends in order to resist the taboo representation of the “traditional” woman.
After the publication of Stoller’s books, the controversial relationship between third-wave feminism and the traditional perception of femininity made resurgence. With the advancement of technology, blogs and public forums became a platform for knitters and feminists wanting to reclaim the traditional practice of knitting in the public sphere. Stoller introduced this approach to feminism in order to be able to merge political involvement with a women’s community-building activity set in a Do-It-Yourself culture.
However, any movement doesn’t go without opposition. As a response to Stoller, much scrutiny on the effectiveness of the reclamation of domestic arts as a political feminist act has been done. Some say that the reason of the reintroduction of knitting in modern social gatherings is mainly due to the increase in the search for individualism and the anti-consumerism attitude of our generation.
With this said, it is important to denote the implication of technologies in the emergence of a “fabriculture” based on the reclamation of domestic arts and crafts. With the accessibility of online information and tips and tricks for knitters and crocheters, the traditionally personal and “private” practice of knitting can now be shared and is open to public discussion and new ideas. These webs of knitters worldwide find affinities via a very modern technology opposing the traditional DIY nature of knitting.
All this criticism, however, do show a great interest in the role of knitting in the public sphere and as a social catalyst for avid knitters. The mediatised attention given to Stoller after the publication of her books and trademark dispute has put knitting back on the map.
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- Abelman, Frayne, and Schwab Attorneys at Law (November 4, 2005). "Petition to Cancel for Registration No. 2,596,818 Stitch & Bitch Cafe" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-11-25.
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- Debbie Stoller (2003). Stitch 'n Bitch: the knitter's handbook. New York: Workman Publishing Company. ISBN 0-7611-2818-2.
- Debbie Stoller (2004). Stitch 'n Bitch Nation. New York: Workman Publishing Company. ISBN 0-7611-3590-1.
- Debbie Stoller (2006). Stitch 'n Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker. New York: Workman Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0-7611-3985-0.
- Debbie Stoller (2007). Son of Stitch 'n Bitch: 45 Projects to Knit and Crochet for Men (Paperback). New York: Workman Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0-7611-4617-9.
- Knitting groups: Stitch 'n Bitch Groups Worldwide - Contact information for local groups worldwide
- Debbie Stoller: Stitch 'n Bitch promotional web site - Book series
- Interactive Stitch 'n Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook - on Inkling