On designing…

Howdy y’all. Firstly, I want to say a huge thank you for the positive reaction to my Giant Rubber Duck. I’ve already got photos of one winging (see what I did there?) their way to me from Ravelry user Pamvdz, who has been invaluable about reporting back a few errors in my pattern. These have been fixed now, so if you were gonna make one and were put off then rest assured you can retry without hassle now. If anyone finds a pattern error in any of my patterns please do tell me! Since they’re given away free I don’t tend to pattern test (although usually I’m a much better editor as I write lol). If I were to ever get into selling I would be pattern testing to avoid errors.

Which segues me rather nicely into today’s topic, designing patterns. (Sorry, no free pattern today, I’m fiddling a few things on what I expected to post so hopefully next weekend). A few weeks back I posted a stream of thought on selling products made from other peoples patterns. Basically, I’m not jumping on the ‘grr, how dare the designer ask you not to sell their products?’ anger band wagon, but my post basically boiled down to respect their wishes, play nice, and go find a pattern you can sell. Everyone is happy, noone gets angry, and on a strictly business level, you and the sellable pattern designer get money, credit and promotion, and the non-sellable pattern designer doesn’t. It was basically a call to hippydom – give peace a chance rather than getting pissy etc.

As a follow up though, I’ve seen a lot of other posts about this topic in the last couple of weeks (it seems to be a current big issue) which then go on to address a topic that DOES anger me – pattern stealing.

It goes without saying that designing a good pattern takes a lot of work. Some of my early efforts suffered from me thinking I could just wing it and it’d be fine, which lead to me accepting some subpar results. These days I’m more open to frogging* my work to make sure it’s exactly what I want to put out there. I want people to send me photos of what they’ve made from my patterns, and I can’t expect people to make ugly amis can I? (Although I have seen some patterns out there for sale that need some additional TLC to fully realise the creators dream in a more profitable way. In my opinion anyway – of course if they like it, and are proud of it, then I’ll be the first one cheering them on.)

*Frogging is pulling the work apart and redoing it by the way – it took me months to work that out!

So when someone takes your design and publishes it as their own, it sucks. And the resulting anger is righteous and supported. Luckily this has never happened to me (which often leads me to joke that I must not be good enough yet. This is 100% a joke – if it ever actually did happen I’d be on the warpath!). That’s out and out stealing and is wrong, even if some countries are in a moral grey area about it’s wrongness (apparently in some countries a pattern is not copywriteable because you didn’t invent crochet. Who knew?!). But the average person can see this as stealing right?

So what about if you take one of my patterns, and change a few stitches, or give it different hair? How about if you take my Basic Human Base Pattern, dress it and bequiff it? Well, then surely you can call the new pattern your own!

Except, no, you can’t.

If you’ve even slightly followed my pattern, then it’s not yours. It’s not new, it’s an edit. Just because Coke change the recipe, did it all of a sudden became the all new product Coak? No, it’s still Coke. Same with crochet patterns. Changing the colour wouldn’t make it yours, so changing the shape of the feet slightly doesn’t either. Sure, it makes those edits yours, and feel free to publish them, but don’t repost my pattern. Link to mine and say ‘I changed row x to read’, or ‘I decided I didn’t like the hands and did this instead’. If you only used my head shape and put your own body onto it, then you’re free to post everything except my head pattern.

But my patterns are free! Surely reposting is not hurting anything?! But it DOES. It hurts my blog hits, it hurts the integrity of the crochet community, and it hurts my feelings. Just because I’m not making money from it doesn’t make it suddenly ok. Especially if you then go on to sell yours – all my hard work will line your pockets, when I’ve been generous enough to put it out there for everyone? Erm, no! Making your version and selling the finished product is all about your talent as a crocheter so sell away, but copying and pasting my pattern and swapping some stuff does not make you a pattern designer.

Aaaand breathe.

I think the problem here comes from the use of basic shapes in amigurumi. You’ll notice a lot of my patterns follow a hexagonal shaping rule – generally stitch patterns are repeated six times a round, and rounds increase in multiples of six. It’s a common way of working, although other designers work in fives, more others have no set rule. I find it easiest to come back to standard shapes for basic creations because I can guarantee how it will turn out with no frogging related stress. I’m not for one second saying that because I do that, noone else can do that, and that if you published a ball pattern using hexagonal shaping then I’d be flaming down on your for stealing my designs. The additional twiddly bits, colour changes and overall combination of the shapes is what makes it mine. Now, you very possibly could come up with a design, completely by yourself, and it look like one of mine with never having seen mine (I actually tackled someone on this once and they claim to never have seen the design of mine I was concerned about having been copied. I tend to assume the best of people, and because the person in question was clearly a young teenager and wasn’t selling the pattern I chose to believe her). But, as KreepyKim says in her blog post on this topic, do your homework. If you’re going to publish a pattern, be it on a blog, on Ravelry or Etsy, or basically anywhere online or off, do a quick search to see what else is out there. Currently there are about a million Despicable Me Minion related items out. Excellent, I bloody love Minions, but so many of the hats looks exactly the same, and there are so many ami patterns that look exactly the same. I’m not saying don’t make a Minion (or whatever) if there’s one already out there, but put your personal stamp on it. Make it bigger, small, more expressive, add arms or a particular costume or face – something to make it stand out. Otherwise not only do you run the risk of being accused of copying, you’re also just going to fade away into the crowd, and cause others to do the same.

Last little comment, just to finish up. If you think about it, really think about it, there’s no reason to edit others patterns to pass off as yours. If you’re clever enough to spot something that could be changed for the better, and able to drop it in there and make it look seamless, then why the hell are you not exploiting that talent and making your own designs?

 

On selling…

Selling huh? Not a usual Amiguruthi topic. I wasn’t sure what to post about today. I’ve been working on two patterns plus an experiment for Mad Crochet Lab, so I’ve nothing concrete to post, and I was going to put it off a couple of days, until I saw a discussion on Facebook that I have to weigh in on.

The discussion revolved around selling items made from someone else’s free pattern. Now, my opinion is that if I designed the pattern and let you have it either for free or for a fee, what you make is still yours to do as you wish with. As long as appropriate credit is given to me as the designer, and you’re not selling the pattern itself, then why shouldn’t you profit from your talent? I’m glad to help you on your way to a little financial gain, be it cost of materials or a way over priced piece – if someone will offer you money for it then take it and enjoy the buzz of a job well done. Let me know its happened so I can link you up on here and enjoy your buzz vicariously too!

I know other crochet pattern designers who have the opposite response – they’ve designed it therefore only they can sell the finish piece. Which is fine too. It’s personal opinion and if they intend on selling then why should they let you set up as rival to them? It’s just business sense (I never INTEND to sell, which is why I don’t have this rule – if I did then I might revoke the privilege). Even if they don’t intend on selling, then it’s still their wish and should still be respected.

Anyway, the argument being had was that it was wrong for one designer to tell someone to not sell finished products made from their design, a wish that was clearly posted on the blog with the pattern. The fact the designer was incredibly rude to the person they were contacting to take down their Etsy listing didn’t help, and I agree was NOT the way to go about it. A polite email might have meant the issue never came up.

BUT.

The people commenting on the thread (which was the seller asking if it was legal to sell from a free pattern against the designers wishes) were being incredibly rude too, ranting about how it’s illegal to try and stop someone selling their version and how the designer had ‘no right’ to stop her, and making hurtful comments in response.

Now hang on. I’m pretty sure if I tried to sell items I’d made from patterns in a published book that specifically stated not to sell them, then I’d be in the wrong. As a lot of the books do – or at least they limit the amount you can make and sell. Why is it different for a home crafter, self publishing on their blog? If it were my wish then I’d expect that to be respected, as I would respect the wishes of other designers. Just because a pattern is offered for free does not make it suddenly nothing to do with the designer. And if you disagree with that, then find a pattern you can sell, or take the opportunity to learn to design your own patterns. At the very least, restrict your selling to friends you know off line, and only take the cost of materials. Don’t put plough ahead anyway, stick it on Etsy, and get offended when you’re caught.

Mostly though? I was ashamed of my community. And that’s sad. The crochet community is the coolest community ever, the most accepting and the most generous, and it contains some freaking amazing people in it (yes reader I’m talking about YOU. You rock). it’s even better than the Brony community, which is saying something. But tonight? Instead of the polite, well mannered, respectful girls and guys that I’m used to, all I saw were petty, hateful people, ragging on someone trying to make a living from something they love and taking pride in their own work. And NO-ONE has the right to take that away from them, no matter how rudely they expressed themselves, and regardless of some unclear legality.

Aaand, end rant. Feel free to discuss and argue in the comments, but don’t make it hurtful or personal. Amiguruthi’s usual updates of silly critters and less seriousness will resume soon. In the mean time, here’s a cat image that makes my boyfriend giggle like a three year old.

human kitty