A little bit of this and, a little bit of that, makes a little bit of me.

I Should be Flattered


when an accomplished designer loves my design enough to brazenly gank my photograph and post on Facebook to her tribe that “I can do that!  And I think we all should make this amazing moebius wrap!”  Should I thank her for the increased traffic to my blog and project page on Ravelry and a couple of added blog followers by email and “friends” on Ravelry?

How do I know this happens? Because of the tight-knit community, of course. My colleagues and friends watch my back–they emailed me to let me know who is stealing my work. And I do the same for my knitterly friends. If it were not for my friends, I would never know that this occurs. The internet is a very large place and hard to monitor. For people who steal others’ work–without permission–and re-engineering design for publication…eventually it will catch up to you. Thanks to my wonderful friends, I came to know about my prototype photograph’s been broadcasting across cyber world just before Christmas.  Disregarding my update that prototypes 2 and 3 and pattern are in the work, this designer has stolen my project notes, photographs, ordered yarn in all colorways used in my prototype, and announced to her followers/friends that she has started a dry-run this week.  Her justification?  It’s been over a year, nearly two, I haven’t been able to publish a pattern.  Something so luscious and lovely and I didn’t kept it under wrap until it’s finished. Precisely–it is lovely and many people will try to make knock-offs before I have an opportunity for publishing The Original.

Should I be happy?  Or shocked?  What did I do?  Angered for a while.  Moaned for a bit.  Shut down my old blog.   Removed project details off my page and/or made pertinent posts here private.  Sobbed in hiding, a little.  Reflected and blogged vaguely a few days ago here.  Beyond that, nothing, really, that I can do.  I thought I have forgiven her behavior and moved on.

Last night, the fire re-ignited when one of her peeps asked me How does one get this pattern?  At the same time, the designer posted the following on Facebook

Hi everyone, I believe that the designer has not put this out (and she’s promised it for a 1 1/2 years) because she made a critical mistake which she may not even understand herself. I figured out her crucial mistake after a couple of experiments (and 50 years of experience!) but do not intend to “knock off” another designer. I may be inspired, but think I could produce an even more lovely wrap. Yes? (Ganked image below–not my work–is one of the designer’s pattern, made by marianne_66047.)

I have no doubt this accomplished designer is talented enough to pull off something like my design.  What baffled me was her statement…“her crucial mistake.” Interesting choice of word–as in life or death?  What was it?  Can you tell?  I am all ears. If there is a mistake, bring it on.  Please do not hide behind Facebook and your cheering squad :D  Another one of her peeps commented today “this is an enlargement of the Inspira cowl; also agree with Ray Knitterman Whiting–since I have those skills, I may very well just attempt to create mine own.” Absolutely. By all means, if you know how to do a moebius scarf or wrap, do gradient color-changing corrugated ribbing, make eyelets, and expand to brioche lace edging…you definitely have all the tools you need to make your own.

Yes, Inspira Cowl is amazingly stunning and I must tell you I have full admiration for Marcy aka celerystalk‘s integrity–giving credit to her inspiration and sharing generously/unconditionally her exceptional creation with the community. (Ganked image below–not my work–from Marcy herslef.)

At the time I made my Wicked Autumn as a color study of Lion Brand’s yarn Amazing, I was unaware of Inspira Cowl or its knit-along.  The making of my wrap came shortly after a couple of brioche scarves and a moebius shop sample I’ve made for self and for Knit-Purl and Twisted in Portland (all of which were well documented/blogged.)   My friends who have been faithfully following my fiber journey over past three years may vouch for that.

Like many of things I made, the playful idea just came to me.  Stop.  Right now.  How did I get to here, justifying my own design!   After being angsty for another unproductive day, I shared my trouble with dear hubby.  Bless his heart.  You know what he said to me?  “Hon, why are you troubled?  What are you asking me?  This is exactly the craps I get everyday.  You clearly missed the boat.  Move on.”  Funny, isn’t it?  So simple.  Such clarity.   The objective view from someone totally detached.  Why didn’t I see it?  Such irony?  Only a day before, I posted on my FB wall “It does not change the past, but, enlarge the future.”

There are thousands of places to find inspiration.  Saving a buck and creating a knock off from brand name items is all the rage.  I may find plenty of inspiring ideas on blogs, websites, in magazines, at fiber/art/craft shows, thumbing through catalogs, browsing gift shops and online malls…the list goes on and on.  It’s one thing to make a project based off of someone else’s idea and use it on me or in my home.   How does that work for knitwear, fashion, or textile designers?  Is it acceptable to follow someone else’s project notes, techniques, approaches, material, colors… and publish the pattern? Is that considering copying or referring to as inspiration?

Definitions:
copying - imitate or reproduce (an idea or style) rather than creating something original
inspiration - the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, esp. to do something creative

It’s a tricky balance because some level of copying and taking inspiration is inevitable and good.  As a matter of fact, I have known a few Ravelers who have made their own moebius wraps or brioche scarves using same yarn or even same colorways inspired by my work. They, however, gave credit where it’s due and didn’t offer to the world to publish their inspired patterns.   I deeply appreciate your thoughtfulness and respect from one artist to another.  Me?  I test often for other accomplished designers.  Never crossed my mind I’d write up my own and publish something before they do!  Believe me, I am not alone.  Everyday, there are designs out that I’d say to self “I can do that!  And I will make something inspired from it.”  I have and I did.  This one is a wonderful example gifted to my good friend Shannon,

inspired by an accomplished, talented designer friend Michele aka pdxknitterati‘s August pattern in the datebook, Created in Oregon: A Knitter’s Datebook 2012. (Check out her beautiful designs here.  Her Hugs and Kisses OXO Cable Fingerless Mitts pattern is on sale through end of the month :D)

Do you have an opinion on this topic?   Care to share your insight?   Last year, my friend Kirsten Hall, another fabulous designer who aspires to bigger, better things–my constant inspiration–shared with me one of her designs was purchased by a magazine publication more than two years ago now.  To-date, it has not been published.  Unfortunately for her, the non-compete doesn’t kick in until the pattern is released.  It means she can’t do anything with that design for as long as it stays dormant.  Obviously through her experience, I translated that I have the right to my own creation and may take as long as I need to publish a pattern.  Silly me.

Did I learn anything from this?  You bet!  No, I am not going to remove all my design projects shared publicly before this unfortunate event. Sadly, moving forward, I won’t be offering detailed notes or experiments openly with the world as I have in the past.  Please forgive me for the abrupt change.  It may not be permanent. I’ll heal over time…Until then, I will not take it personally should you un-follow and/or un-friend me here and/or on Ravelry.  Thank you all who have been encouraging in my fiber journey over the past three years on and off Ravelry.  You are an awesome bunch. Knit On! :D

Thank you and I am bowing to you if you’ve stayed with me through this lengthy rant.  Now I must make up some lost time and get back to some serious knitting to meet my shop sample deadline.

Happy crafting and keep those creative juices running!

(still doesn’t do texting, MySpace, Twitter, StumbleUpon, DiggIt…but caved into Facebook!)

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Comments on: "I Should be Flattered" (14)

  1. Dear Sarah,

    This is indeed a crazy and even uncomfortable topic… Credit to your courage! :-)
    It´s great you have addressed it. It should bring some result – one way or another.

    There is a very thin and flexible line between copying and inspiration that different people interpret each in own way, and act accordingly to their values or the knowledge they have at a certain time.

    The only thing I probably might have understood for myself so far: the person who keeps being creative and keeps creating no matter what – is always a step ahead of the ones who copy this work…
    The dogs bark, but the caravan goes on. And sure – this theory might look ok, but keeping it up in practice is a completely different kind of story ;-)

    Your work is very original. And it is GREAT!

    • Thank you for your sweetness, Laura, and wisdom. I had to digest your analogy this morning and it took me some time to make light of which path I’d take. Today, I say to myself “I will never lose my sense of wonder.” I won’t. I promise! As I told my friend Jen, I am closing up this chapter, enjoy life as I see it, and keep on creating. Thank you, Laura, for your reaffirming my belief and steering me back on track. :D

  2. Hi The internet sure has made this a muddy field and like you I daily see others work and think `I can do that` or `why didnt I think of that` however to blatantly steal someones work in this way is just sad and frustrating . A virtual hug is called for and dont loose faith in your friends and admirers in blogisphere.
    I have a dear friend going through this issue but in the real world. She is a wonderful felter and developed a technique for making spheres within spheres that was just wonderful. She did a workshop taught by a nationally known felt artist and because my friend was really proud of her at the time new technique she showed it to this person at the class. Several months later she went to an exhibition that featured this artists work to find the featured piece was an almost exact copy of my friends work. She to has agonised about how to handle it and had in the end decided that those that really matter to her know the true story and that is what is important at the end of the day.
    Thinking of You Jen

    • Thank you, Jen, for your comforting words. I am so sorry about your friend and her unpleasant encounter too. I have heard it over and again that it happens…but like watching a movie, it’s different when it hits home. As naive as I like to keep, I like to keep thinking of artists/crafters the kindest and generous people I’ve ever met, in person or online. As I’ve expressed many times on my blog, I can meet a fiber lover/crafter and, within 5 minutes of a conversation, it looks as if we have known each other for a lifetime.

      Sad part of this dilemma is the fact that the designer didn’t see what she is doing is unethical or wrong. But, you know what. Others can stop me temporarily. I am the only one who can do it permanently. Today, I am closing up this chapter, enjoy life as I see it, and keep on creating. Thank you again for your cheering and encouragement, Jen. :D

  3. Thank you for the shout out. I love your hat/cowl that was inspired by my hat/cowl!

    Sorry for your troubles. Did you ever contact her directly, or just decide to move on?

    • Thank you for your constant inspiration, Michele, and standing up for me on her FB thread. No, I did not contact her. Based on her latest messages, she did not feel what she is doing is unethical or wrong in any way. In fact, she said she saw crucial error on my design so she is going to make a lovelier one. Not knowing what she is actually going to do with my design or have seen what it will be, there is nothing for me to confront her with. As I said on my last post, I zipped up “the trouble” and tossed it altogether over Deschutes this morning during my stroll. I woke up this morning quite refresh. So good that I decided to visit my other knitting group at Barnes & Noble this evening and just got home. I have a very pressing sample needing to get done so I am focusing on knitting it up hopefully by tomorrow, get it bathed, set, blocked, and shipped off by Friday. Then, I have a ton of administrative stuff to set up, work on pattern layout template, hopefully get to work some more on prototype 2 of the wrap…more sketching and swatching for some new designs. It does sound like I am moving on :D

      Thank you, Michele, for standing by me. It’s a touchy subject and even blogging the experience has been interesting–a new leap–for me personally as I do not like confrontation or controversy. I feel like facing the giant–someone who is “internationally known” figure–was quite intimidating. I wondered at times “Will I be blacklisted by the knitting community because she is established and have many well-known, big name knitwear designer friends–many whom I worship. Do those people think I was taking issue out of context? It’s such a scary feeling. I prayed and searched for the answer. As one of my friends said to me last night, the person who keeps being creative and keeps creating no matter what–is always a step ahead of the ones who copy this work. I feel I’ve grown through this challenge…makes me a better person. I feel energized and can’t wait to get some productive work generated. I need to make up those lost days :D

      Again, thank you for your encouragement and support, Michele. I am truly blessed to have met you, my friend and guardian angel :D

      Blessings, Sarah

  4. OH dear… this all rather *is* a lot to swallow. Hmmm… thinking cap on , caution to the wind, my first impression is that your sage DH said it for you personally, to get past… but what about the para-professional theme of what is going on. I don’t know but my gut feeling is that the knit designer arena is glutting out right now, and it is wise to expect a free-for-all, and everybody-for-themself when it comes to making a dollar from the vast internet. I too have been thinking, wondering, am I too able to design? What is it with the mob mentality of things, where one person goes against the unwritten code of ethics, essentially ‘throws the first stone’… then more get thrown, and well, then an all -out mob happens where all manners and ethics are trampled over in the race to make a buck. Hmm. I’m very sorry you became so upset, and that your blogpostwas so full of misery, but you did learn something, and that you will keep your ideas under lockand key publically , for Ravelry is a mob. I love, love, love the place, but when it comes to wanting to compete with the zillions of other wannabe and alreadyare designers, one must not trust a smile. Unless it is of course, given by someone who wants nothing from you. :) I’m smiling. xxx

  5. OH, and another thing: I think you must continue and blaze your trail ignoring all who are copying and drawing inspiration from you (credit given or not). In other words, just ignore that the other designer brought your design into *her* world, into *her* customer base, into *her wallet*. Think only about yours and Brave On. I expect to see your original Mobius Gorgeous wrap carried on as if nothing happened, because you own a clear conscience & because you took the idea from nobody. I hope I am making sense. Just continue , don’t stop because of the others…. they are on *their* path, and if they take without crediting who inspire them, that’s their trip. You must walk yours, and gleam in the bright ideas which you own and are entitled to. xxx

  6. Oh, I agree with Jen. I’d love to see this design/pattern finished, by you! It’s lovely. And clearly, it’s yours!

  7. I too am saddened by this post. I can’t imagine how YOU are able to see bits of wooly fluff to spin up, or arrange an armful of yarn skeins and two days later you have a swirl or other such item. I’ve long admired YOUR take on a hat, or wrap, etc, and eagerly await the time when YOU offer your patterns for sale.

    Chin up and hugs :-)

    • THANK YOU, Tammy, for the encouraging words. It brings me comfort and smile. I am learning each day to become less of a self critic. Not easy…but it’s a progress. My new year’s focus is to finalize a template for my patterns, streamline some mandate progress, offer knit-along…it’s an exciting year of “make-it happen!” Thanks for being here, listening to my rants and babbling as I forge ahead. May your year filled with wonders wherever your dream takes you!

  8. Honestly. Does it matter? So much angst over a bit of knitting. Don’t you think ego is a dangerous and ugly thing. Money and fame account for so much that is wrong with the world. This sort of thing personifies that. Why does it matter to you? If it’s the money, well nevermind it doesn’t have to be always all about the money does it? If it is about recognition. Why? Why do you need it. Ownership of ideas is a funny one I think. It’s greedy, anti sharing and anti progressive. It’s knitting. If you are lucky enough to have been blessed with the skills to do this, then why is that not reward enough?

    Incidently how do you know the design is original? I mean HOW could you POSSIBLY know? There are millions of knitters out there, do you see in to all their living rooms watching them knit. Originality is a silly thought. We are none of us original we just think we are.

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to share your wisdom, Sandi. I have come to term with what had transpired over the holiday. Right you are. Ego played a part of all these emotions. Hormone another. Turned the big 50, perhaps…LOL Silly, in fact, now to think of it. What you have outlined was the exact talk my hubby had given me too. It’s very the same thoughts I have arrived since this post and have begun to resurface and share again as I love it’s what I love most about knitting and creating. In fact, I started a design-along series a couple of weeks ago and have been preparing material for the next post in the series.

      Again, I really appreciate your voice. Thank you, Sandi.

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