Category Archives: Ramblings

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):

© 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 🙂 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!


Just a few hints about upcoming projects:


Yarn Bowl idea…




Soft flannel pillowcases in the making…

Meanwhile, preparations for the Newport Spin-In are proceeding a bit slower than I’d like, but what can ya do? Three hundred ideas, only 24 hours in the day…

Update and a little self-promotion

See the white embellishment? That’s my handspun angora yarn adorning the body of a model for Natalia Fedner Design in Hollywood! I know, right? She found my bunny blog and sent me an e-mail asking if I ever did custom spinning orders. She was looking to use some angora yarn for embellishment on some Couture Dresses and this is the end result. We’re in the Big Time now, baby!

The Great Soap Marathon 2013 is all over but the cursing when the bars don’t release from the molds shouting. Eight different batches. One gallon of Pomace (extra virgin olive oil is actually not as good for making soap – pomace is what you want) 1.5 pounds of coconut oil, assorted fragrances, well over a pound of lye combined using Science and Towanda smells like a bordello. What with the underlying odor du dog and cat hair floating on the breeze from the open vents, it’s a little slice of heaven right here in the Willamette Valley.

It was only slightly more complicated that I imagined it would be. I’ll be posting about the idiocy of making soap in a travel trailer over at Travels with Towanda tomorrow.

The next Big Project will (hopefully) be the move into Studio T – Annex One followed by a bunch of sewing for the Lincoln City Cultural Center’s (almost) Eleventh Hour Craft Faire on Black Friday and Mauve Saturday (I totally stole Mauve Saturday from a blog that I can’t remember now…) Stay tuned for more info and Sneak Peek photos as things get done.

Running concurrently with The Move will be NaNoWriMo. Go ahead and tell me I’m crazy. It’s nothing I haven’t heard before. I feel energized when I have deadlines and Big Projects on the horizon so don’t expect any, “OMG! I haven’t showered in a week and my stomach aches from all the coffee I’ve been drinking and my characters aren’t playing nice with each other, what am I gonna do?” posts. I got this. I am Superwoman.

If any whiny posts do appear here, rest assured it won’t be until after I’ve deleted the preceding paragraph 🙂

Anyone else up for NaNo? I’m Sofia Leo over on the forums. Let’s be writing buddies!


It seems I spend half the week recovering from the weekend, and I don’t even have a good party story to share! It’s hell getting old…

Lil’ Dude (aka Revy, aka LD) is growing like a weed and has been scheduled for his Procedure on Wednesday. Awana stayed with LD and Sabu yesterday while I attended VegFest in Portland with Roxy to hand out vegan dog biscuit samples.


Paradise is a box full of newspaper!

Sabu was a perfect angel. Awana thinks she’s depressed…LD, on the other hand, managed to scratch Awana, spill litter and newspaper all over the floor and take out a curtain rod in his exuberant sideways-on-the-wall dashes fore and aft. All. day. long. Many, many thanks to Auntie Awana for taking on this challenge and coming out the victor!

Today has been quiet, all of us exhausted from yesterday and wanting nothing more than a nap. Even LD has been sacked out most of the day. I will lock him in the back room if he insists on being up all night.

Fibery news to follow…

There’s never enough!

Time, that is.

The upcoming weekend promises to be very busy. Crazy Helper Dog, Sabu, and I will be traveling to the Coast to take photos, update websites, drop off a spinning wheel and replace a vanity sink.

In order to update the websites, pictures must be taken, edited, filed, uploaded, etc. etc. etc.

About a dozen bobbins must be emptied, the spinning wheel cleaned and oiled, accessories gathered together and packed into a travel container of some sort and the whole kit readied for travel.

The sink replacement will be done on the fly because you can never really predict what parts you need or what complications may arise – travel trailers are notorious for not being built “to spec.”

Seventeen errands must be run before, during and after all of these other trips and of course there is always laundry, vacuuming and dishes to be washed. Plants must be watered and tended before being abandoned for two days (harvested the first ripe tomato just the other day!) and Towanda has her little quirks and shut-down procedures to attend to.

The dog should have a bath, too.

Whew! No time for sock knitting unless I can figure out how to do it while I sleep. No time to play with the new wheel, either 😦

I was lamenting my lack of time this morning as Sabu was barking (yet again! What is it with that dog?) at the neighborhood beagle during our morning walk, trying to decide what to do after work (it’s Knit Night and I will be going, schedule be damned!) wondering how  many things can be dropped off the list with no consequences, irritated that my Real Job takes up so much of my time. But not complaining, really, I love my job and know how blessed I am to have it.

The Boss was in his office when I stopped in to get today’s assignment.

“I don’t have anything for you at the moment…” he started, looking around at the paper stacked high upon his desk.

“It’s okay – I have some work from The Other Boss that I can do,” I replied.

“How much work? A day, a couple of days?”

“Today for sure. I don’t know what else he has for me; he left for a hunting trip and I think he’s gone for a couple of weeks,” I said.

“Good! I’ll be out of the office tomorrow and Friday…” he’s not finishing his sentences, so I know this is my cue to ease his mind.

“Does that mean I have tomorrow off?” I asked gleefully. “I would love to come in and use the internet if that’s okay, and finish up the work for The Other Boss.”

He is visibly relieved. “That sounds good!”

Okie-dokie! I knew when I took the job that it might not be full time. The Boss and The Other Boss (it’s a long story) verbally promised to keep me busy full time between the two of them if I would move back to The Valley. At the time, they were expecting a couple of big jobs to come in that would have kept me busy for a year or more, but those jobs have not materialized and I know The Boss is worried that I will jump ship.

Anyway. The upshot is that I have whatever is left of today after I get the work done for The Other Boss, all day tomorrow and half of Friday to get the stuff done that I really want to do 🙂 How’s that for a great start to the weekend!?!?

New day, new ideas!

The weather here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon has been cooler the last few days, the smell of Summer filling the air, the tomatoes ripening on the vine as if finally able to breathe after so many hot days in a row. The Calendula are in bloom and ready to harvest, their happy yellow petals to be steeped in a jar of sunflower oil for soap making in a few weeks and yours truly has been furiously writing ideas down in a little spiral bound notebook just as fast as the pen can fly over the page.

Work has been busy enough that the new website has not gotten any attention. I can hear her little voice deep in the night, “Please put some pictures up. Maybe a few words here and there? I am longing for pages to tell my story…” but sleep must take priority, paying work must be finished first and there is always a dog to walk.

My friend Awana spent last weekend here with Sabu and I, enjoying Towanda’s peaceful vibe while spinning wool into yarn on the patio; it always makes the neighbors stare. We batted ideas back and forth, the sweet smell of wool making us a bit silly as usual, and now there is a new list: Things to Get Right On To.

The speed at which we just throw things away in our Disposable Society is shocking and against my basic philosophical beliefs; it has led to a passion for (and rather large collection of) vintage linen. Not bedsheets, but linen and cotton towels, the really thick and absorbent kind* that the Grannies received as gifts and kept in a drawer “for special” and never (or lightly) used. Today’s linens just don’t compare unless you pay Big Money for them, but the Good Old Stuff can still be found at estate sales and thrift stores.

My idea is to use these treasures to create modern kitchen wipes that actually do their job, last for years and are wonderful to look at. This line of Useful and Beautiful Things will be called “Use it Again” and will feature original embroidery and trimmings on vintage linens and also designs and kits for you to use to create your own treasures. First installments will be RV themed – vintage inspired images that relate to the RV lifestyle, in jokes, popular sayings and scenes from the road. Each will be one-of-a-kind, or nearly so. Announcement soon.

It might be evident from previous posts (and do look at the pages near the top of the blog – categories have been set up to separate the many and varied interests into some semblance of order) that I have many, many interests and most of them lead to a stash of some sort. I live in a 30-foot travel trailer; space is at a premium and The Stash must go.

The next project on the list for my little Bat Cave is curtains. Travel trailers generally come with those annoying metal blinds that never work right and they rattle with every little breeze or step, making for a very irritated Sofia! The awful window surrounds have been removed, curtain rods hung, a lovely charcoal black wool twill procured from The Stash, fun lining fabric purchased and The Great Curtain Project is set to begin this evening after work.

Because the fabric was on sale and I have a little problem leaving less than a yard on the bolt for someone else to purchase at a reduced price as a remnant, I may have over-bought** and will have left-over fabric. Tossing said hypothetical left-over fabric back into the stash to age for an indeterminate amount of time is not an option because there simply isn’t room for it, so I will be making bags of many sizes, pillow covers and pincushions until every inch is used up. Charm packs, strips and perhaps kits will be offered, too, depending on the size of the remnants. These will be offered under the “Use it Up” label – announcement to follow.

Pictures and a curtain tutorial next post.

That is all. Carry on.

* What’s the deal with modern fabrics? Have they been designed to fall apart after three washes? Why aren’t so-called “dish” or “kitchen” towels absorbent? It’s so frustrating to buy a pretty new towel only to find that it won’t actually dry anything and it leaves bits of lint all over everything.

** Oh, come on! You know you do it, too. Don’t you? Or is it just me?