Category Archives: Designers

Let’s talk about copyright

Copyright is a hot topic with crafters and likely to raise the hackles of some of my readers but I feel compelled to share my views on the matter after an incident at Knit Night yesterday.

One of the regulars, I’ll call her Twit because sharing her real name here would not be nice, was showing off a hat she’d knit and discussing making more for sale. One of the other regulars, who knits and sells her own hats at craft faires around the area, questioned the origin of the hat pattern.

“It’s a free pattern on Ravelry. Cute, right? Everyone loves it so I should be able to sell a bunch of them!” Twit was quite pleased with herself.

“Uh…just because the pattern is free doesn’t mean you can knit up a bunch and sell them…” began T.

“Oh, come on! You sell hats, don’t you?” Twit asked.

“I do sell hats, but each one is my own pattern and I would never even consider selling a hat made from someone else’s pattern – it’s a violation of copyright,” T responded.

At this point my ears perked up and I zeroed in on the conversation. I design, write and publish knitting patterns, so I have a vested interest in what people think about this subject.

“It’s not a violation of copyright because I’m not selling the actual pattern,” replied Twit, a smug smile on her face. “I won’t be selling the pattern, just the hats, besides my nerd husband deals with open-source software and he says it’s just fine…” or words to that effect. WTF her husband’s hobby has to do with copying a published pattern (whether offered for free or not) is unclear.

T was dumbfounded. Her mouth was actually hanging open and this is a woman who is rarely at a loss for words. The whole room was electrified, all eyes darting between the two. Or maybe it was just they could all feel my hackles rising.

“True, the actual pattern is the copyrighted item,” I said, “but making hats from someone else’s pattern and selling them as your own with no credit, attribution or payment to the author is a violation of my understanding of Fair Use. It also depends on the copyright notice on the pattern itself…”

“If a pattern is offered for free on Ravelry I can do whatever I want to. It’s not like I’ll be making a million dollars from it!” Twit retorted.

“No,” I said, “you won’t be making a million dollars, but why should you profit from someone else’s hard work? Personally, I offer free patterns that clearly state on the copyright notice that they may not be used for profit but may be copied so long as the copyright remains intact. I also state that if the knitter has any questions they can email me. I’ve had people write that they wanted to knit 5 items and sell them at a church fundraiser and I’m happy for them to do it. I’ve had people ask to use my pattern to teach a class and I give permission for that. I DO NOT give permission for someone to knit 50 items from my pattern and sell them for their own personal profit and I doubt you’ll find another designer willing to do it but you could always email the author and ask,” came out in a rush because I could see she was winding up to defend her position.

For the record, the pattern is Regina (Ravelry link) by Carina Spenser and has a copyright notice that reads: “Copyright 2011 by Carina Spenser |* | Not for commercial use” at the bottom of each page. This, IMHO, is very clear – this author does not give you permission to use her pattern to make money for yourself. As if that weren’t clear enough (and it’s obviously not clear to a certain Twit) there’s a box at the end of the pattern with the following (bold mine):

ยฉ 2011 Carina Spencer. All rights reserved. Pattern
is not to be reprinted, reproduced, or distributed
without permission from the designer. Items
created from this pattern are not to be sold for
profit without a license, but are always allowed for
use in trades and craft swaps.
If you are interested in knitting this pattern for resale
or charity fund raising information on cottage
industry licensing is available.

But back to the conversation last night.

“It’s a free pattern and I can do whatever I want!” Twit insisted.

“It’s just not right,” T replied, “no matter how you look at it, it’s stealing and you won’t find me selling hats designed by anyone but myself.”

“Oh, that’s just ridiculous…my husband…”

“Right!” I interrupted, “it’s only a MORAL crime, so it doesn’t matter!” Oh, I was fuming. Sadly, this went right over Twit’s head but shut up the rest of the room. We had a little discussion in one corner while Twit went on and on about how many of these hats she was going to make but I knew if I didn’t step back I would likely cause a scene that wouldn’t soon be forgotten and I really like most everyone in the room.

All that being said, here are my views on copyright and fair use:

I will knit an item for another person, for pay, from a published pattern, but only if they buy the pattern. Before y’all start flooding my inbox with requests, be warned that I have many conditions when knitting for others that have nothing to do with the complexity of the pattern and I don’t come cheap ๐Ÿ™‚ I have knit for cash, but the first stipulation is that the item is not being sold and the pattern was acquired legally. No exceptions. Ever.

I have a clearly worded copyright notice on all my patterns. If you buy a pattern from me, you are welcome to knit up the item as many times as you like for yourself, friends and family, so long as you’re not making money doing it. If you are knitting for cash, I ask that you purchase the pattern for each item knit for sale. It’s only fair and right.

If you’re knitting items for charity or fund raising (not your Vacation Fund raising, mind) please drop me a note and I’ll likely give you permission.

If you want to use my pattern to teach a class, please drop me a note and I’ll likely give permission.

If you want to buy one of my patterns and make a dozen copies to sell in your shop, I do not give permission and hope you get shingles.

If you buy one of my patterns, make 50 items and sell them for a bunch of money in any venue I will be very angry when I find out (and the knitting community really isn’t all that big) and will use every resource at my command to force you to see the error of your ways. Yes, I will take you to court, I will shame you in the knitting community, I will destroy your reputation. If you’re going to make money selling knitted goods, get permission or use your own designs.

If that makes me a hardass, so be it. I put hours and hours into each design. I have 20 years of knitting & designing experience. It’s not just my hobby, but a real side-line that I hope to turn into my main job some day soon. You wouldn’t let me come into your office and steal cash from you, so why should I sit back and let someone steal from me?

Rant over.

* Do follow the link – Carina’s designs are just lovely!

Designer Update

2014 was certainly a busy year for our favorite designer, Natalia Fedner. As I hinted before, the Black dress with my fabulous handspun angora yarn was tried on by some Hollywood heavy hitters and it finally saw its Red Carpet debut at the American Horror Story Freakshow premiere back in October adorning the beautiful Naomi Grossman:

Empress 1


Empress 3My handspun yarn has been up close and personal with an IMDb 2014 Top 10 Star! That’s right, my yarn has adorned the ass of the famous!

Yeah, I rock ๐Ÿ˜‰

Natalia has been very busy designing with new methods and materials and clothing more celebrities. Do check out her Instagram and Facebook page.

I’m sure we’ll be hearing about Natalia and Naomi a lot in 2015!


Summer is all over but the shouting and we’ve been busy, busy, busy here at SODesigns!

Just got an update from our favorite designer, Natalia Fedner – the dress with the angora yarn has recently been tried on by not one, not two, but three entertainment industry heavy hitters! Here’s another look if you missed it the first time –

Famous DressNatalia told me who the famous woman are, but I can’t share that info with you…yet! Trust me when I say I’m over the moon about it and wish Natalia years and years of fashion success.

Meanwhile, back at the Studio – we’ve moved! The space above the yarn shop proved to be too small for three people to work in and so we put Jean on the hunt for a larger space that’s closer to her house. Less than 24 hours later we were looking at the perfect space and moving in as quick as we could. Jean makes shit happen!

Now the Sweatshop Girls are hot and heavy into production for the upcoming Craft Faire Season – we’re booked for six weekends in a row November thru early December. Schedule to follow. These particular shows are geared towards people looking for Holiday gifts so we’re churning out goods as fast as we can – no fleece or stuff to spin for these shows except packaged as gifts for knitters and spinners.

An interesting conversation the other day:

Jean: I think we need more fiber to spin if we’re going to make enough stuff for all the shows…

Awana: Yes! We don’t have much wool laying around do we?

Me: ::blink blink::

J: Where do you two usually get your wool? We have to watch the costs and it has to be locally sourced.

A: I dunno – Sofia, where do you get your Romney wool?

Me: Well…I generally just open this here bin and fish out what I want. If it’s not there I look in this bin. And this box, which is full of alpaca fleece. Or this bin, full of angora fiber. Or this bag here – more Romney. This bag is Scottish Blackface wool. Over here we have some commercial stuff, firestar, silk, even a bit of Quiviut…

Them: ::blink blink::

Me: I think we have plenty of fiber for what we’re doing ๐Ÿ™‚

Pictures to follow – the new Studio has WiFi, so expect updates to appear in a more timely manner…

Under the Gunn – Finale

What a disappointment the UtG finale was! There was plenty of time for ads, promotions, a re-cap of the prizes, and drivel from the “surprise” judges, but precious little time to show the designers, their assistants, advice from the mentors and the creations of each collection. The editing was choppy, irritating and not nearly enough about the designers or their designs.

I was expecting something more in line with Project Runway finales, maybe even a double episode, but no. For instance, on PR, for the final challenge designers who have been eliminated come back and assist the finalists in creating and sewing a mini collection. UtG was similar in that each designer had one former team mate come back to assist, but other than a few glimpses of the eliminated designers we saw nothing of them and that was, IMHO, a mistake. Some of the most entertaining moments on PR are the conflicts between the eliminated designers and the finalists.

Oscar got the well deserved win and he and Nick were obviously over the moon about the win. Oscar’s collection:

UTG01-ep13-episode45While it was an expansion of some of his “best of” looks, every one was better than the original and overall it was a very cohesive collection, deserving of the judges’ praise.

While she wasn’t really shown on the episode, Natalia was there assisting and cheering Oscar to the finish line:

Natalia_Nick_OscarOverall I was disappointed with UtG and if it comes back for a second season I hope they hire some new editors and give us more of what we love the most about Project Runway.

Nick’s Take can be found here.

Under the Gunn – Episode 12

For the penultimate UtG episode, the theme was Superhero Fashion. The designers were to use inspiration from Marvel superheros to design a wearable look. Oscar chose Gamora as his muse and he was off to Mood to choose fabric.

The final result? Fabulous!

This three piece outfit is totally wearable and classic! The coat is made of felt but looks like an expensive wool.

Oscar was the clear winner of this episode and Asha should have been sent home – all three mentors would still have been in the finale – but instead the judges (or the network?!?) decided that the Final Four designers would ALL be competing for the championship. Not only that, but no winner was selected for this episode and no prizes were given. A bit of a letdown, really.

Who will win the competition? My bet is on Oscar, with Shan coming in second and Sam third. Asha should have gone home long ago, but since no one asked me, there she is.

Nick’s Take can be found here.

Under the Gunn – Episode 10

I’ve been too angry to post about last week’s UtG episode until today, waiting to see what’s being said around the interwebs, deciding if my anger was justified. I think it was. As you all know by now (unless you live under a rock somewhere, in which case, good for you!) Natalia was sent home last week.

The challenge was to work in three teams of two and collaborate on three designs – a mini collection for hip retailer Francescas. Natalia was paired up with Asha and Asha was not a bit happy about it. Sam and Blake moderated their comments about Natalia on this episode, but Asha made it very clear that she was pissed at being paired with Natalia and, IMHO, she went into this challenge with one goal in mind – get Natalia sent home – and she did a wonderful job. She was likely guessing that she could survive (another) Fashion Fail, while Natalia could not, and she was right.

The trouble started at Mood where Natalia’s fabric choices were flatly turned down by Asha and continued into the work room where Asha took over and dictated exactly what Natalia would be allowed to do. The result? A cute dress that had a lot of potential from Natalia –

The front had some fit problems, but the back was great and totally Natalia –

We got only a glimpse of the cute, well fitting shorts underneath Asha’s hideous dashiki and we got a lot of finger pointing by Asha on the runway, making sure the judges knew what Natalia was “responsible” for – way to look like a Team, eh?

The judges rightfully hated Asha’s awful outfits and asked which of them should go home, their team being in the bottom and one of them having to go.

AshaNataliaAsha started to cry and plead with the judges, telling them how much she wanted to stay, when Natalia spoke up and said that she should be eliminated so that Asha would not blame her for getting sent home. And you know she would have moaned all over the interwebs!

Natalia showed amazing grace under pressure – you know she wanted to stay but felt bullied and disliked by the other designers and mentors. She looked so tired and just ready to go home. I love her parting line, “Under pressure, I’m a good person.” And she is.

If you’re following Natalia on Facebook or Twitter you know that she’s designing and creating like crazy and that at least one of the dresses embellished with my yarn is now in Europe being worn by someone fabulous – more info as she’s able to share ๐Ÿ™‚

Oscar and Shan were a wonderful team, working together seamlessly and turning out the winning looks, models of sewing perfection, as we expect from both Oscar and Shan –

Oscar_Shan1The blazer and maxi dress are in Francesca’s shops and online for purchase and each of them won a $5000 prize. Well done, gentlemen! We here at SODesigns are still rooting for Team Nick – good luck tonight, Oscar!

Read Nick’s Inside Scoop on his blog.

Tim Gunn asserts that Natalia was not bullied by Asha or anyone else, but what I saw was most certainly bullying. Tim said that Natalia’s poor time management made everyone crazy, but we didn’t see any of that on ANY episode, except what Natalia said about herself. One has to wonder why there was so much time to show Isabella’s craziness (and there were many more designers to cover way back then) but nothing at all was shown about Natalia’s supposed “issues.” Doesn’t make for unbiased TV now, does it? Click the pic to read Tim’s full statement and enjoy the comments, too.




Tim Gunn on WhoSay

Under the Gunn – Episodes 8 and 9

Wow. Just. Wow. I know “reality” shows are edited to showcase drama and boost ratings, but Episode 9 of Under the Gunn was harsh.

It all started with Episode 8 and Natalia’s Beach Themed Unconventional design –

She chose to use grass to create an overlay fabric and it was ah-mazing. The judges were a bit mixed on her look, but she made it through safe. I don’t quite understand the animosity of the other designers over this design, especially seeing as how Stephanie (Natalia’s team mate) went home, but there it was.

I thought Natalia’s design was unique (not a fan in sight!) and if she’d had a bit more time it would have been over the top lovely. It did have some construction issues, but the idea and execution were uniquely Natalia and the judges saw that.

Oscar won with a dress made of fans, and it was a justified win:

Oscar’s execution was flawless. Dude can SEW!!

Episode 9 was a “Transformation” challenge. The designers were to create a look that would go from day to evening. The models would show both looks on the runway and it promised to be interesting, to say the least.

Natalia’s design was, once again, very different from every one else’s –

Lemme just say that any day look that has sleeves to keep a person warm in the office is a Great Thing! I hate, hate, hate sleeveless outfits that have to be covered up with a sweater or jacket for the office – what’s the point of having a fabulous look if no one can see it?

The Evening Transformation –

The knit cowl/sleeves transformed into a purse! The body-hugging dress was appropriate for any occasion so Natalia’s Girl could go from office to wherever without having to carry an extra bag. I thought it was wonderful and so did the judges, awarding Natalia second place behind team mate Oscar who designed this little number:

It would have been better, IMHO, if the Day look didn’t have slits in the skirt, but I’m not rich and famous, so what do I know?

The real shockers were the designer interviews where everyone but Oscar ripped on Natalia’s design skills, sewing abilities and her penchant for crying. Really? I hadn’t noticed her crying until you guys started being assholes!

It was everyone against Natalia, including Mondo and Anya once the judging was over. The judges asked Mondo and Anya if they disagreed with the final decision and they were pale and trembling with rage. It was shameful. While neither one of them insulted Natalia personally (I understand they’ve gotten some negative feedback for their harsh words from the online community) I thought it was in poor taste to air their grievances in front of the cameras – it would have been so much more professional and interesting if they’d taken their opinions to their blogs, Twitter feeds, etc. and sparked a reasoned debate instead of spouting off like a couple of petulant children in front of the world.

I did disagree with the judges about who went home, however. Asha’s design was a Hot Mess. There is not a woman in the world who would buy an outfit that makes a model look pregnant both coming and going. The sewing was atrocious and the whole look was just ugly. Her fabric choice was good, but as soon as that skirt was turned up it was a disaster – the print was All Wrong and left me shaking my head. It was so bad I’m not even going to link to a picture. The sewing alone should have sent her home – she knows better and has shown that she can sew. It’s like she was phoning this one in.

The judges sent Michelle home because her look was “boring” and they didn’t like the color palette. Huh. Taupe for the office – that’s always going to be a winner. Her tunic dress was very well made and the silhouette would have flattered many body types –

Go ahead and eat lunch, Girl, this dress won’t make you look fat! The evening look didn’t do it for me (too bulky around the hips) but the idea was sound. I don’t understand why she went home while Asha was safe, but I don’t get a vote, either.

Nick’s Take on Episode 9 can be found here and judging by the sneak previews and commercial snippets, this week promises to be full of drama as the designers are paired up for this week’s challenge. Natalia is paired up with Asha who went into the challenge with a very bad attitude if the commercials are to be believed…

Go Team Nick!


Under the Gunn – Avant-garde Challenge

This week’s episode was a good one! The challenge was Avant-garde with a Steampunk twist. Several of the designers submitted very good designs and a couple of them clearly did not understand Avant-garde OR Steampunk. They ended up safe, anyway.

Natalia was robbed of a win this week. Robbed! She totally understood the challenge and her design was a marvel – it had a cape, a lovely gown with lace accents AND a mechanical device that changed the length of the hem! I’m not the only one who feels Natalia should have won, according to the poll here.

Sadly, I can’t find any pictures of Natalia’s model entering the runway with the cape on, but here’s the front of the dress:

And the back:

But what sent it over the top was the skirt-hem-adjuster:

Sure, she could have gone flashier, or randomly added Steampunk symbols, but she opted instead to create a look a Steampunk heroine would wear while chasing the bad guys – the anonymous cape to pull over her hair that can be flung off in an instant to follow her target into a party, where she cranks up her skirt before jumping out a window in hot pursuit. It was awesome!

The judges declared Shan the winner with this look:

Shan’s design was much more true to his style, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before, and don’t Steampunk girls generally wear skirts?

Oscar came in third with another magnificent gown:

If he hadn’t done the whole “revolution” thing with the train he might have taken the top spot, but he was just a little too over-the-top for the judges.

Once again Anya had to make the final decision about which of her designers went home and this time she made the right choice, sending Nicholas on his way.

Under the Gunn – Team Challenge

This week each team had three members, so you know it was time for a Team Challenge – not usually a favorite challenge for any designer.

I must admit when I saw the previews and heard Nick saying, “I cannot take responsibility for this – it’s ALL theirs!” I was worried. I know the show is edited to maximize drama, but this clip had me biting my nails (figuratively, of course!) to see the show.

The inspiration was “Pompeii” but the designers were instructed not to make costumes. All of the looks had to be wearable.

It wasn’t looking good during sketch time with Nick doing all the talking. It wasn’t looking good at Mood with Natalia and Stephanie brainstorming and picking coordinating fabrics and Oscar off doing his own thing. The first day in the workroom was a disaster, with Tim admonishing Nick to do something to pull his team back together. Oscar was not listening to or working with the girls and all of the designers were cutting eyes to Team Nick and shaking their heads.

The day of the runway saw Oscar have a change of heart – he was at last a member of a team and took charge to coordinate the designs. I feel he might have been a little heavy-handed, turning it into an Oscar Collection, but in the end it worked fabulously.

Natalia’s design was my favorite:

I’m never a fan of a “romper” but I love the way they all used the little metal studs to link the designs and the order the models went out onto the runway was genius – Stephanie’s romper first, Natalia’s gown, followed by Oscar’s pure white outfit – you could see the three designs were a collection very clearly. If only Oscar could have incorporated just a little hint of blue it would have been perfect, IMHO.

Oscar’s outfit was classic and wearable:

While Stephanie’s romper wasn’t to my taste, her coordination with Natalia with the fabric choice and Oscar with the square “cape” were beautiful:

Team Nick deserved to win and I hope it’s the first in a long line of many!

Under the Gunn – Client Challenge

Last week’s episode of Under the Gunn was the Client Challenge. The designers were tasked to create an outfit for Zendaya to wear at an upcoming concert. Here she is a few months ago:

Not having any idea who Zendaya is, and not having watched any videos before the UtG episode, I was not at all sure what the designers would come up with. Natalia said she knew exactly what Zendaya wanted and designed this:

I love this look for a young performer who dances on stage and doesn’t want to have a wardrobe malfunction. Zendaya loved the ‘Z’ on the back and said she would wear it every day but that it wasn’t glam enough for the stage.

The judges were all over the place and none of them liked this look for the lead but thought it would be great for a backup dancer. Have they seen Zendaya in concert? Natalia’s look, IMHO, was exactly what you would expect to see from Zendaya in concert and some of the other designers went a little too glitzy and/or strange to match (admittedly my perception of) Zendaya’s style.

Asha won this challenge (and $5000!) with a really great look that all the judges loved. The winning outfit in concert:

Thank all that’s holy Isabelle went home! That woman is a train wreck and obviously didn’t understand what being on the show was all about – designing & sewing an outfit under a very tight time schedule while staying within the bounds of the weekly challenge AND allowing your own design aesthetic to show through using the experience and advice of a mentor who has already won Project Runway. Isabelle wanted to do what SHE thought was appropriate under HER OWN time schedule, going so far as to re-style her model’s hair (that didn’t make the final edit, but Nick talked about it on his blog) and sewing on her design until Tim Gunn dragged her model out of the sewing room! No respect for the competition, her mentor Nick, or the other designers. Good riddance!

Forgetting about Isabelle, Nick’s group did pretty well this week – Natalia hit the nail on the head (IMHO,) Oscar made a very stage-worthy design in a rocking red that would have been great if Zendaya was a few years older (I wonder if Beyonce called him up to buy it? ๐Ÿ™‚ ) and Stephanie’s design was good, but her choice of fabric and lack of pants fitting techniques was unfortunate.

In the end, the person who should have gone home did and I expect this week’s episode to be much better if only because there won’t be any Crazy Isabelle in the work room.

Get Nick Verreos’ views on Episode 5 here.