Tag Archives: designing

Much ado…

Nope, nope, nopeWarning: this post will be full of clichés and catch-phrases.

Law of mass conservation:

“Dans la nature rien ne se crée, rien ne se perd,
tout change.
In nature nothing is created, nothing is lost,
everything changes.”
Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier

There’s a play with this quote (in Brazil, at least) that states that in TV nothing is created, everything is copied.  The same principle can be (and is) applied to the fashion universe.  It’s a quote I’ve had to remind myself of many times since I started publishing patterns.
I know of at least two designers who started their careers by “reinventing” patterns of mine.  A few months ago I saw a book with a stitch pattern that came straight from one of my designs (to be honest, I wouldn’t call it a stitch pattern, but this not the point of this entry).
This introduction is to make it clear that I know all too well what it means to have your creations -errrrrrr- re-created.  I made the decision to not go looking for this, because the alternative isn’t healthy.

Enter the Chinese website:

Last year, thanks to a thread on Ravelry, I became aware of a website/online community that was breaching copyright left and right.  Against my better judgment, I went there to check it out and sure enough there were patterns of mine available there.
I had mixed feelings about the whole thing – the website is really confusing to navigate, there’s no visible way to contact the people responsible for it…  I felt sorry for some of the stuff I saw there and more so for the people who use the website.  From what I understand there’s a currency thingy going on there: meaning people would have to pay money for the patterns available.  I felt like those people were being duped.  At least as far as my patterns are concerned, since the ones I found were free.
Based on the fact that people were paying for stuff they could get elsewhere for free, I decided to investigate the website a little further.
Well, it turns out the website is hosted in China, which pretty much translates into “Good luck getting the website’s host to take any action”.
I Pmed the person who posted the link to the Chinese website, told her what I’d found and explained why it would be very hard to get the patterns pulled.  This was the last I dwelt into it.  Well, until the beginning of this week.

Outrageous indignation :

At the beginning of this week (yet) another designer found out about the (by now infamous) Chinese website.  Much gnashing of teeth happened, a few pearls were clutched, some great (NOT!) ideas shared.  I even saw a hilarious threat (aka: flounce).
People contacted Google, Google Ads,  Adsense, random companies…you name it.  Some even shared info on how to contact consulates and suggested contacting the Chinese government.
Most of the suggestions led to dead ends (and probably a lot of people on the other end of the missives scratching their heads).  The “best” they achieved was that Google doesn’t show their patterns on Google searches anymore.
And I died laughing.  From here on this is being written by zombie-me.  Zombie-me is also responsible for all the clichés that will follow.

Be careful what you wish for:

If you add up all of the many, many threads and posts from designers wringing their hands and wondering why their patterns aren’t selling/how to sell more/ variations of the theme, you’ll find out those people spend a huge amount of time thinking, posting and tweaking in pursuit of the perfect SEO, all social media, blogs etc..  Some of them even go as far as making questionable posts on Ravelry, trying to plug their work.
In an amazing and unexpected (to me) turn of events, those people who work so hard to get recognition shot themselves on the foot by asking demanding Google excluded them from searches.
Well done, dimwits!  You just lost a venue that you were working so hard to get.

You can’t have it both ways:

As I mentioned on my previous section, those people are chasing after fame and fortune (ROFLMAO), they want their patterns to go viral, to become a well-known (read: lots of sales) designer.
Here’s the thing, though.  The more your designs become desirable, the more visible your creations become, the more people will try to copy your work.
Don’t believe me?  Take a look at ANY fashion show (pin or add links to your favorites, if your memory is as bad as mine) and then check out what the more affordable brands come up with for the same season.  Yep.  A boatload of “inspired by” and a handful of plain copycat designs.
Pick your choice: you can either remain somewhat invisible (and not be able to design as a full-time job) or you can become one of the industry’s big names (and see your patterns/emulations of your patterns) all over the internet.

When everything else fails…

Spam Ravelry and make sure to earburn Casey.
I’ve seen at least four different threads created to discuss this copyright infringement.  I didn’t even do a search, those were in fora I usually check anyway.
The brilliant (NOT!) idea of having Casey code something that would plaster a watermark over any sold pattern was brought to the table.  This watermark would have a text that read something along the lines of “Sold on Ravelry.  Bought by soandso@emailaccount.com.”
Enter the nope octopus.  There’s no way I’d let the privacy of my buyers be violated that way.  I do not want to deal with angry (and reasonably so) buyers who can’t see my pattern clearly because there’s a huge, awful watermark all over it.  I won’t send a message that basically says: “I got your money, but I don’t trust you.  So I’ll make it very difficult for you to knit this, but not so difficult for you to take it off and breach my copyright.”.
The people who will have problems with a watermark are the people who don’t have the skills to erase it, and those people are less likely to make a pattern available without authorization.
Then, there’s the problem of the size of my charts – they are big, and the new designs I’m working on right now have even bigger ones.  I could make them smaller to accommodate for the stupid watermark and in the process alienate those who, like me, lack a good eyesight; or I can say no to the idea – which is what I did.
I alienate enough people already by not offering written instructions.  I’m not going to prevent more people from working from my patterns by making them impossible to follow (Heck! I wouldn’t be able to follow them myself!).
Casey has offered a great suggestion: not happy?  Take your business elsewhere.  Other venues do offer what you want.  It won’t stop piracy from happening, though, and it will come back to bite you.

Hoar de Fleece – so far

So far I haven’t spun as much as I planned – and chances are, I’m not going to.  I finished two skeins of lace weight – ish yarn and then something funny happened: one of the yarns I finished wanted to be knit – by me.

Hippie yarn
Hippie yarn

This is unusual because I normally don’t have any desire to work with my own hand spun, which is odd, but it’s the way I roll.  This one, though, was taunting me, whispering that it would look awesome as a stole that I had yet to design.
I endured the siren song for as long as I could, even started on the second half of the blue silk, but the calling got louder.  So much so that I had to stop the spinning (which I wasn’t enjoying anyway) and spent 2 days playing with the charting software.

Once I had the charts the way I wanted, I wound the yarn into a cake without even bothering to finish it first and started knitting.  Again, it’s an unusual way for me to design.  For most of my patterns, I start by knitting and only after the thing is done and blocked, I go to the digital end of the business: charting and writing the pattern.
I’ve noticed that as my designs begin to incorporate more elaborate, bigger stitch patterns, the more I start out by charting.  It doesn’t take away the need to actually knit, but in some ways, makes my life easier: by the time I have a photo of the finished item, I also have a rough draft of the pattern.  Making the process of test knitting move faster.

Beginnings of a new design
Beginnings of a new design

So, I began knitting and as usual, found a few mistakes.  Back to the software we go.  The photo here is my third attempt – the first two didn’t work so well.

I was actually surprised at the number of mistakes and adjustments that had to be done in order to knit this – there weren’t that many :D.

Because of this new design, I haven’t spun for two days.  I needed to get back on that horse, so today I put what I have (it’s bigger now) in a nice hot bath and it’s blocking as I type.  By bathing the swatch(?), prototype(?), I’m buying myself some time to work on my spinning and some house work.

I have known about the Tour de Fleece for a few years now, but had never had any interest in joining.  The thought was that I would lose interest before long as I don’t like to do things on demand, so to speak.
I joined this year because of some nastiness that went on, and only did so because a new sort-of spin-off group came into existence.  At first, I wasn’t going to spin.  I just joined for the fun of it, but it got contagious and I ended up spinning more than I’ve done in the last 2 or 3 years.

The goal of the Tour (or Hoar, in my case) is to challenge yourself and push your boundaries.  At first I was a little disappointed on myself for falling back into what I already knew.  At some point, though, I realized that I was, in fact, learning new things.  I came to understand that I was behaving like a production spinner who needed to get done with one roving as soon as possible so I could move on to the next.  This wasn’t working for me – I didn’t really had the time to appreciate or enjoy the process itself and it was taking a toll on my well-being (head,knees and back pains, sore fingers and even a few cuts from singles rubbing against my skin).
When I joined the Hoar de Fleece, I had to scale it down and take breaks.  I could have 7 skeins done by the end of it (I have made at least one 4 oz skein in 48 hours before) but there wouldn’t be time for anything else.  I also know that if I had tried for that I’d burn out by the end of the first week.
This time around I learnt to slow down, take breaks from one hobby by doing another and manage my time better.  Maybe next year I’ll try some long draw ;).

Random thoughts on stuff

I have a hard time calling myself a designer and the more I read on the various designer fora on Ravelry, the less I feel like one (no, this is not a pity party).  I consider myself more of a mad scientist – playing with shapes and stitch patterns.  I don’t have any business plan and am not consistent with my “voice” when it comes to what I create.

I can see why some people stick to a few formulas/shapes: it becomes easier to create new stuff and you know you have a captive audience for it.  I counter this argument with the following thoughts:
– people’s tastes change and their skills evolve
– after a while  your products became so homogeneous it’s hard to tell one from another
The truth of the matter, for me, is that I’d become so bored with doing what’s in my comfort zone over and over again that I’d eventually give up.

I’m still struggling with finding the right balance between profit and fun.  Sure, I like to get feedback in the form of purchases/favorites/what-have-you, but I also want to enjoy knitting.  This year, especially, I’m overwhelmed with this.  I do have new ideas, but don’t want to give up on knitting for knitting’s sake.  Right now, my prototypes are coming off the needles very slowly, if they come off at all, and I think it has to do with the fact that I’m forcing the issue and not allowing myself to have fun.

I also have an issue with what most people consider “success” in design.  I don’t want to be one of those people who always get a “Squee!  I can’t believe you replied to my post!”.  I want to have the freedom to interact with people without feeling like a spechul snowflake.  Besides, the fear of disappointing people’s expectations would probably freeze me.

Today, browsing patterns, I found yet another designer who just stopped.  Stopped creating new patterns, stopped blogging, stopped interacting on Ravelry.  I’ve seen my few share of those – people whose blogs I’ve followed, from whom I learned a lot.  I know that interests change and people move on, but I wonder if the pressure of putting out yet another “master piece” was too much for them, and wonder if it will happen to me too.

There’s an interesting trend I’ve been noticing on Ravelry.  Some designers are becoming upset with the amount of new designers popping up there, noting that it’s too easy for anyone to plug a stitch pattern on a shawl formula, publish it on Ravelry and call themselves a “designer”.  This comment always makes me tilt my head.  Wasn’t that exactly what we “old timers” did at some point?  Maybe not the plug and play thing, but still, we knit something, wrote it down and published it on Ravelry, didn’t we?
My thought on that is that the market levels itself.  It isn’t easy to come up with original designs and it’s even more difficult to put it all together as a coherent pattern.  If one isn’t very creative and willing to keep on learning, they’ll eventually become bored and lose the audience they had (if they ever did). The people who are basically running behind (as in, re-creating of other people had done before) will either be called out or burn out.
What I really need is to stop reading these fora.  Every time I do I feel inadequate.  It seems that there are so many little details that I’m either not doing or doing wrong…and then, I think about them and realize that most aren’t really necessary.