Tag Archives: Musings on Design

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 | www.carinaspencer.com* | 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!

Weekly Update – Issue One

I’m having a lot of trouble composing regular posts for this here blog. Time is just flying by, the ideas and inspiration coming fast and furious. I find myself with no time at the end of the day to even get the laundry and dishes washed, much less compose a coherent blog post! These updates will (hopefully) fill in the blanks between FOs and document some important ideas before they are lost to the ether. I do read back over past posts on occasion 🙂

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERALast weekend found Sabu and I in Yachats with some free time. We walked on several beaches, including this particular spot where the sand appeared to be black. Upon closer inspection I discovered that it wasn’t sand at all but tiny little stones, worn smooth by the sea. I took several pictures and collected some especially pretty samples for inspiration later. It was warm behind the rocks and Sabu decided to lay on her back while I mucked about taking pictures and sifting through the fascinating rocks.

The weather was perfect and I got some great pictures which I’ll post tomorrow.

Awana came over and we did some Project Planning. Whenever we get together the new ideas flow fast and furious. Thankfully I take notes 🙂

The regular Wednesday night gathering at Knitty Gritty was even more exciting than usual. Kristin brought a hooked rug to work on and was instantly besieged with questions. Silly girl! She thought since the majority of us bring knitting or crochet projects to work on that we would have no interest in rug hooking. Ha ha! By the time it was over she had agreed to teach a two-day class and had six signed up. More on that when it happens in May.

Thursday was Laundry Day and I spent the evening at the Laun-dro-mat, washing fabric, felting sweaters and washing clothes for like three hours 😦 It’s all done now, but I hate such an ordinary thing taking so much valuable time.

Many new ideas swirling around my head and I hope to bring them to fruition soon. I’ve always been interested in rug hooking but figured it wouldn’t fit into my already tight “hobby” schedule. Now that I know someone who can guide me, well, it’s become a bit of an obsession. Being a drafter by trade, it just seems logical to design my own patterns and fill Towanda with hand made rugs. I may have lost my mind (again) but it feels like a good fit with the other things I like to do and there’s plenty of wool fabric in The Stash that can be dyed and used up. Seems like kismet, right?

Don’t tell me if you think I’m crazy 🙂


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…

Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival 2013

Here we are, another Monday dawning wet and windy after a wild & stormy weekend here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. We had no significant damage in the park; some of my friends on the Coast were not so lucky. Winds in excess of 50 mph blew well over an inch of rain sideways (why can’t I find any data on exactly how much rain fell and what the peak winds were? Any ideas where to look?) Staying inside with a nice pot of potato soup was a very good idea, but this die-hard fiber fanatic was on the road Saturday morning to Canby, Oregon for the 17th annual Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival. Believe it or not, I attended the very first OFFF back in ’96 and I can tell you from experience that it has grown by leaps and bounds!

Crazy Helper Dog and I got very lucky on the drive North and had no problems with rain, but the wind was whipping the big trucks around so much we had to wonder why they didn’t just pull over and wait it out. There were some white-knuckle moments but we made it in one piece and the journey was well worth the risk.

The outside vendors (hearty souls, indeed) had their pop-ups triple staked and the sides lashed down as tight as they could and the wind was whipping them about alarmingly. For all the rain showers and blustery winds, they were still doing brisk business, the Wooly Bears dashing from booth to booth, their purchases wrapped in plastic bags, laughing all the way.

The atmosphere was remarkably cheerful and remarkably crowded. I’ve never had to park as far away as I did this year. The main pavilion was a mass of talking, laughing, pointing and picture taking humanity, many of the booths spending hours at a time so overrun with people that one had to keep circling back in the hope of getting a peek inside. It was mayhem of the very best kind.

There were many inspiring entries into the various competitions as well as weaving demonstrations going on upstairs.


This lovely hand felted cape won for it’s division, but not the overall prize – a sad omission, IMHO. The workmanship was superb, the fabric incredibly soft and the beading perfect. The lining was made entirely of money – bills from many countries.


This cape was all about the maker’s Journey. There were several spirals made up of painstakingly perfect needle felted poems.

The themes of this year’s festival was Angora Rabbits and Dyeing and everywhere you looked was evidence of some very skilled artists. Of this hooked rug the artist says:

My brother is a professor of Oceanic and Fishery Sciences at University of Washington. In 1973 he found and named this fascinating angler fish from the pitch black depths of the ocean, where bio-luminescence is the light of day. The female is brightly colored, with large sharp teeth that snag the prey she lures with a bright light at the end of her tentacle. Her “husband” is a nondescript parasitic male which attaches himself to her body for his life. She nurtures him and he provides sperm for the next generation.


I’m relying on Awana to fill in the blanks about names – I totally suck because I did not take notes 😦

Crochet works were everywhere, including this class winner, hand-dyed in shades of green:


My picture does not do this shawl justice – free-form crochet all along the yoke in patterns that evokes the feeling of a flower garden under the sea.

This hand knit shawl won the Judge’s Choice award:


The yarn was incredibly fine wool, perfectly spun and knit into a very old lace pattern whose name escapes me at the moment…

This tableau did not get the respect it deserved:


The entire scene is needle felted and tells the story of an angora rabbit who is cold after being sheared. The angora goat dyes yarn spun by the cashmere goat who sits at the spinning wheel that really does work.

The workmanship was exquisite, each curly lock on the mohair goat a perfect spiral. The sheep are different breeds and you can see how detailed the features are.


You can see the little white bunny snuggles up to the brown sheep, who is knitting him a pair of pants to the left. A white sheep cards wool while the dyed skeins dry on a rack.

Just gorgeous!

Of course there were sheep:


An adorable Shetland ewe

And goats of all kinds:


One of the residents at Goat Knoll Farm

This goat doesn’t even look real:


No idea what breed this goat is, but its hair was long and straight and it almost looked like it’s face was shaved. It looks like it belongs in a Fairy Tale…

And lots of angora rabbits, but they were mobbed with people ooohhh-ing and aaaahhhhh-ing all over them – not great picture taking conditions.

There was yarn and fiber of all kinds, but that will have to wait for another post. It’s late and I am DONE. More about my haul tomorrow. Or, you know, Wednesday. Or whenever. Did I say I’m tired?

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?