Like mother, like son

My 19 year old son was in charge of passing out Halloween candy this year. Perhaps I should mention he is PDD-NOS and not likely to live independently (I don’t say that to elicit sympathy but to put this entry in context). Never having charged him with such responsibility previously, I didn’t realize the activity required instruction.

Delighted with the opportunity for social contact under such festive circumstances -and absent parental involvement- his first strategy was to scare the pants off little kids with a cap gun, swathed and draped as he was in I don’t know how many yards of black knit fusible interfacing. Perhaps needless to say, I am now the proud owner of a black and orange cap gun. Maybe it will be useful to terrify the cats who’ve taken to sharpening their claws on the new (to us) sofa I bought at a garage sale last week for $20. The old sofa, you may recall, was so hideous that even said felines deigned to destroy it, their work having been subverted by the elements and the frat boys who’d previously owned it and kept it on their porch. Or maybe not. Whatever its history, even the frat boys in Animal House wouldn’t have wanted it.

Properly chastised, the boy’s second strategy was akin to benign neglect. He put a chair on the front porch, put the candy in a dish and posted this sign.

After which he came to advise me of the new disbursement policy. Obviously further intervention was required. All in all, I thought the incident was quite funny until last night when I realized that the apple doesn’t fall so far from the tree.

Once I realized his sign represents how I feel about charging for subscriptions, I didn’t think it was so funny anymore. I’d prefer that people made a personal pledge to support the site but I don’t want to revamp the site just to charge admission. Like my son, I just want people to take their due and act appropriately without my having to enforce the process. Why can’t people just be good?

I don’t know if my son took any lessons from his exercise in public trust and the goodness of people but I know I have. I am without words to thank you all for your support. I suppose I’ll get back to regular posting now but I’d just been too distraught to concentrate on anything productive (although the running helps) and my writing was stalling. An explanation was in order. I suppose I’ll come to terms with whatever the outcome may be and move on from there. Still, I know myself well enough to know that my most inner autie will stubbornly insist that people are inherently good and kind and that good triumphs evil. At least I believe that most of the time. Speaking of, don’t forget to vote next week.

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  1. Alison Cummins says:

    Hey Sweetie, glad to see you start to pull out of your funk!

    Love the Young Man’s all-or-nothing approach to giving out candy. Sounds like me: I take a lot of dithering and get a lot of odd looks before I settle on something that works.

    As far as being good, I think most people are pretty good. But like the situation with the candy, where it only takes one to walk off with the bucket even if everyone else respects their allotment, pirates can make publishing a disappointing experience. Online, however, you’re in control over how much you give. There’s no candy bucket to walk away with. (Well, there are hackers. But let’s ignore them.)

    I suspect there is some lack of clarity in terms of what the purpose of the site is and what is expected of readers.

    I understand the site as primarily a way of promoting your book. People can see who you are and what your approach is, decide that your book would be worth it at twice the price and buy it.

    However, you put more effort in than strictly necessary to promote the book. I would consider one post a month acceptable and two posts a week very generous. You post an incredible five times a week! This much effort can’t be compensated by straight-up book sales, but needs to be supported by its own revenue stream. The hoped-for donations aren’t providing this additional revenue. (Hint: tell people exactly how much you want them to pay. For instance, on the first of every month instruct everyone who has benefited from the site in the past 30 days to either make a five-dollar donation or buy a 10-dollar coffee cup or 15-dollar GOAT. Precise instructions are much easier to follow than general imprecations to be good.)

    Plus, you’re much busier with other things now – running, classes – so you aren’t as available to post as you used to be.

    So you need to rethink parts of what you’re doing. This might be disappointing to us your loyal followers, but you clearly need to make some changes. You just can’t keep up everything you’re doing.

    1) Stop new posts to the site except to announce books and videos. Disable comments. Close the bulletin board. Leave all the old material up so that people can see who you are and decide to invest in your book.

    2) Cut down your posting to once a month. Retain comments.

    3) Cut down your posting to twice a week. Retain comments. Once a month, charge for tutorials. Restrict access to the bulletin board to those who have bought the book.

    I don’t see the sense in charging to subscribe to the entire site because then you lose the opportunity to demonstrate what you can do for new potential customers and you end up preaching to the converted.

    (I don’t actually expect you to pick one of my suggestions above; I expect that you’ll talk things over with Eric and come up with a satisfying solution of your own.)

    Of course I’ll miss you greatly if you stop posting. (And I’m not even a DE!) But you aren’t here to single-handedly save North American manufacturing, and your book and videos are tremendous resources for those who invest in them. The question is not whether you help DEs, the question is whether you do it in this forum in this way.

    Whatever you decide to do, I am richer for knowing you.

    Thank you.

  2. Danielle says:

    I don’t think the “put the donation basket out and hope people will be “good”” strategy is any more effective than your son’s candy distribution method. I think subscriptions are the right idea, if you want to continue it as a daily ritual. If blogging is your career, you have a right to formalize the payment process just like you do with your patternmaking clients. “Pay whenever, whatever” will not sustain a business, regardless of the “goodness” of people.

    Otherwise, pursue your other dream jobs, and why not just blog for fun on your personal blog, and take the obligation and resentment out of it? Post about your son and your cats or whatever is on your mind, as frequently or as infrequently as you like. Post because you enjoy it – I know you do, you’re a natural, gifted blogger. I love the off-topic posts too, BTW.

  3. Katrin says:

    Kathleen – I’d be disappointed to see your site become subscription-only. I’ve been reading it for the better part of a year now (and occasionally lurking on the forum) but have never commented before because I’ve felt as if I’m “outside looking in.” I’m not a DE and have no plan to become one; I’m just a hobbyist who enjoys making my own clothes.

    The other day I passed your link on to my neighbor who’s a former costume designer (and now sews only as a hobby), saying I’ve probably learned more about clothing construction (as well as neurodiversity and other near & dear “off-topic” subjects) from you than any other source in the last 25-plus years. But I don’t think I’m in your book’s target market.

    I just made my first donation (yeah, I can be a bit slow on the uptake sometimes) and will make more – the information is definitely worth it to me now. The thing is, I don’t even remember how I first stumbled upon this site or when I started searching through the archives. I’m just grateful that they were available to me then. Had I been required to subscribe before reading, I wouldn’t have stuck around. I’d hate to see that opportunity lost to other new readers.

    True, you don’t owe us readers anything. And if life gets in the way and you decide to post less frequently or start charging for “bonus” material, that’s your every right. You’re doing a terrific service here – don’t think for a moment that it’s not appreciated. I just hope it stays accessible to everyone who can benefit from it.

  4. carissa says:

    Maybe you could be like NPR or something and do a “fund drive” reminder every spring and fall? Regardless of how much we appreciate you, it would be easy to forget how long it had been since we contributed to you. I would love to have at least a reminder if you are totally opposed to a subscription charge.

    As much as all of her clients love her, my midwife still has to get on the phone to collect money every now and then. It’s not that we wouldn’t want to support her- It’s just that when someone really loves what they’re doing and works so closely with people, it’s easy to mistake the situation as more of a relationship than a practical service that needs to be funded.

    She smiles as she listens to my baby’s heartbeat and lingers for a while over coffee. She shares her personal birth stories and significant life events. She tells me my tummy looks beautiful and then I must remember to get out my checkbook- something about that just breaks the mood and tone of it all, doesn’t it?

    I think you’re forgotten because you’re so dear and generous to us.
    Take it as a compliment and remind us to pay you at scheduled intervals?
    I know, it’s crummy. But people are a little bit crummy.

  5. Judith says:

    Great post today Kathleen. I just stumbled across your site one day months ago. Im trying to learn what I can. I have read your book. Im not a DE yet but I hope to be one in a couple of years. If I never get to be a De I at least want to learn to make my own clothes( so tired of the crap out there)
    I love all your post no matter what they are.
    It sounds like your son had a good Halloween.

  6. Lisa NYC says:


    you have no idea how much you have made a difference! I’ve learned soooooooooo much from your posts. The information provided here is like having my own private mentor in the manufacturing process.

    I’m not opposed to subscription based membership. Just be sure to have something free so new members can get a glimpse of this valuable information.

    With friendship,

  7. nadine says:

    Great Post! I also feel our life lessons come from subtle places.

    Sorry to contribute something a little off topic – but about those cats and that sofa….

    You should try this product – Comfortzone for cats by the Feliway corp. It is a synthetic pheromone that mimics the smell of a cat’s cheek. It is their happy face smell – the reason they always rub their face on people and things they like. Anyway, the reason this is great is because Comfortzone comes in a spray and also a – get this – plug in! When the cats smell their happy face smell they are less likely to scratch on sofas or fight with each other. I want to buy stock in this company so they can make a whole range of “Happy -insert your custom item here – Smell” Just imagine if we could buy plug ins for those horrible people at work, difficult students, family members etc. Not likely but one can dream. The great thing about this product is that it totally works. I used it with a super fraidy cat who did bad things like not use the litter box and it totally worked. I was very skeptical. So just offering a suggestion to save your couch. Sorry I didn’t have any info about saving your earnings – I’m thinking…

  8. wyn clute says:

    Kathleen, Ahh…special kids. Bless you. About the couch. We came home with ne last year. Got it into the house, no small task, and found it stank (stunk? as in skunk) of cigarette smoke. The sellers had said, “No smokers here.” Uh huh.

    So i invested more $$$ in foam and fill and cleaning supplies than I had in the couch. A year later, it need a fill boost, but all it smells of is us and our dog!

  9. Kathleen says:

    You should try this product – Comfortzone for cats by the Feliway corp. It is a synthetic pheromone that mimics the smell of a cat’s cheek. It is their happy face smell – the reason they always rub their face on people and things they like. Anyway, the reason this is great is because Comfortzone comes in a spray and also a – get this – plug in! When the cats smell their happy face smell they are less likely to scratch on sofas or fight with each other.

    Thanks for the tip Nadine. I bought some from Amazon; the company selling it there sold it less expensively than they do on their own website. I have two cats who are a bit sullen and don’t like the other cats. Apparently, this product makes them happier too. I don’t know how effective it’ll be with my tomcat (Right) because I think he deliberately scratches the sofa when he wants me to chase him around the house; it’s all great fun for him, unless I can find the matagatos* which none of the cats like.

    *matagatos = a water filled squirt bottle.
    In spanish, a fly swatter is called a matamoscas (kill+flies). Matagatos means kill+cats. (I make up words all the time)

  10. Yahzi Rose says:


    You’ve been such a tremendous help to myself just starting out and so many others it would be tragic to have you leave because of a few bad apples.

    I think most folks are “just good”, they (we) just need a little push to get going. I appreciate your wealth of information and the opportunity to learn from the talented folks that post here. I believe like many others that it is certainly worth a subs fee. I don’t think you should revamp the site however because it would turn away DEs that need this information (before they know just how much they need it) and it is something you obviously don’t want to do. I agree with some of the ideas that others have laid out like simply reminding us once a month/qtr to send in a fee (I believe in being specific, tell us how much to send) or have a ‘fund drive’ once a qtr with a tutorial gift or something.

    I’m going to be real, if there is a bucket of my favorite candy just sitting on the porch of someone I know to be a good person, I’m going to say a silent thanks and take a handful. I’ll probably give them something later or have already given a gift or 2 so I don’t feel bad. If there is a note telling me how much the candy is and where to drop the change, I’ll pay the cost and take the same handful. Most people aren’t trying to be “not good” they (we) just have so much going on that they need to be told.

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