I have a super cute pattern coming out, hopefully tomorrow. He’s almost ready to go live. But, I can’t wait to share! Here’s a sneak preview. You’re never going to guess what he is!

The following post has been updated here: http://carochetdesigns.com/copyright-protection-update-and-its-good-news/ I had misinformation but am leaving this here to show my thoughts.

I can’t stop thinking about this topic lately and how it affects my small business as I’m growing it. I’ve done a lot of research, and I feel like I understand the law pretty well. I have no intention of violating the laws as currently laid out, but what is really bothering me is that they seem very much in favor of the big guy and offer no protection for the little guy.

For example, I could make a beautiful cabled sweater and put an adorable little moose on the front of it and name him Gus. But, if I don’t trademark that character there is literally NOTHING stopping anyone from studying my pictures and recreating the same sweater, then call it their own and publish the pattern. Even worse, if I don’t put Gus on the front, and it’s just a cabled sweater, there isn’t really anything I can trademark and protect as my own unless I figured out a way to make the cable unique or something.

Yet, I keep hearing over and over “The reason to protect and enforce the law and report patterns in violation of the law is because the same law protects the little people too. We ALL benefit from the same law.”

But, I don’t see that really. I feel extremely vulnerable and protective of my little designs. I have about 15 designs ready to go, but I’m crippled by fear of letting them out in the world only to see someone with more exposure than I currently have take advantage of them and publish them. It’s a very scary precipice to navigate.

This whole process seems very unjust and I’m more than a little confused by the apparent anger it incites in some people. I’m not planning on making amigurumi, or designing derivatively. I celebrate the successes of other people, whether it’s a fabulous afghan design or an adorable little figure to cuddle. What I’m seeing is not that celebration of others, but something that seems rather sinister to me instead.

It’s reassuring at first encounter to hear that while stitch patterns have been done over and over, and combined in many different ways, the use of those stitches and combinations is not what makes a pattern yours, but the words and the way you write your pattern. So when it’s published, it has your copyright. But, the copyright literally only protects the exact words on the page and the images you share.

It might be unethical to copy my images and rework my sweater as your own, but it’s not illegal.Yet, someone sees a baby Yoda on the television and makes up a crochet pattern and that’s illegal? I totally understand the legalities of it but I don’t know why we as crafters are just accepting this. Disney is not going to make a Baby Yoda crochet pattern (unless they’re hiring the designer who made one and are going to publish her pattern? I can only hope!) So the avenue is just closed. And that seems greedy and wrong to me.

A crocheted or knitted item has unique properties that a manufactured item does not have, and vice versa. One does not replace the other. Your mom can give you a stuffed animal she bought at the local toy store, but the one she made for you has a different sort of meaning. It may not be an exact image of the movie character, but it’s imbued with love that the manufactured item can never have.

If we are going to have to respect the law and not mimic the art of other media, then the same should be true within our own medium. And that’s the bottom line for me. This trademark/copyright issue seems unfairly biased towards corporations with the funding to protect their images, but artists working independently have no protection whatsoever without great expense.

This post has been updated here: http://carochetdesigns.com/copyright-protection-update-and-its-good-news/ I had misinformation which led to these thoughts. I’m leaving this post active as it shows my journey.

Copyright law has come up a couple of times in the crochet world recently and it’s something I find rather fascinating. Especially when ethics come into play.

A few weeks back, a very well known crochet designer slipped up and made a Grinch scarf. It wasn’t available for long before it was hit with a cease and desist letter from Random House, the current owner of the copyright. Please note, this is third hand information, so the specifics may be wrong, but the concept is the same, big money hit little designer and little designer lost.

I had to look up who owned the copyright. This article has the scoop… https://www.nytimes.com/1994/04/22/business/the-media-business-dr-seuss-rights-are-sold.html ) It may have changed hands since then but that was the most recent reference I could find about copyright acquisition.

And then this weekend, a baby Yoda pattern took the crochet world by storm! A clever designer made a baby Yoda that is presumably life size (if Yoda HAS a life size!) and people got so excited about the finished product that they started a bidding war to purchase it, so she put it up on Ebay. It made it all the way up to $2175 before the auction was taken down. The pattern was taken off Ravelry yesterday and I’m not sure what happens to the money she was paid before it was removed.

This whole thing got me thinking about a number of issues, and not just copyright laws! First, it was so exciting seeing another designer virtually hit the lottery with a pattern. I loved watching the number of times this pattern was favorited and added to someone’s queue on Ravelry. Celebrating each other’s successes is a way we can all have more joy. It doesn’t have to be my success to make me happy. It’s fun watching! https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/the-child-baby-amigurumi

In my discussions on the internert, I’ve been mightily surprised to see that not everyone agrees with me. In fact, some people got a little nasty about it, comparing this situation to stealing groceries and diapers from a woman dying in her car.

I can see the argument that by allowing designers to mimic other people’s art, we are weakening the strength of our own copyrights. BUT, I don’t think that Disney has any intention of manufacturing a crochet doll or a crochet pattern. A crocheted doll has unique properties that are different than manufactured toys and might actually be subject to Fair Use laws if we had enough money to fight a behemoth like Disney.

I’m still learning about copyright laws and my understanding could certainly benefit from more information. So, I Googled. I found this article about the Grinch.

Apparently if something is a parody that exists solely based on the existence of the original copyrighted material, it does NOT violate copyright law. There’s got to be something in there to allow crafters some wiggle room. It is actually starting to feel unethical to me to PREVENT crafters from expressing their love for a character through crochet and other crafts.

I’m not sure what the answer is, but a fire is awoken in my belly and I’m going to pursue it a little further. My father was a lawyer, and I just wish I could talk to him about this. He wasn’t your big wig corporate lawyer, but a man who fought for the little guy, a poor man’s lawyer if you will.

Wish me luck! We all stand to win if we can figure this out. Happy Hooking!

Christmas Tree Spiral Garland

Deck your tree with festive garland! Quick and easy to make, this garland can be made in various lengths and thicknesses to create exactly the look you want! This is more a technique than a hard fast pattern but I’ve included some suggested yarns and stitch counts to get you started.

Terms and Abbreviations Used (US terms)

CH = Chain
STDC = Stacked Double Crochet (see pattern notes for description)
SC = Single Crochet
CH-SP = Chain Space
DC = Double Crochet

Yarns Used in Photo

Bernat Piqsueak in Whitey White is the bottom row. It is a bulky yarn, and used 100 stitches to achieve 60 inches in width with an L hook

My three reds are Stylecraft Special 4 ply in Lipstick at the bottom, this was 100 stitches of worsted weight, and is about 55 inches in width with an H hook

Bernat Blanket in Race Car Red in the middle, bulky yarn, 75 stitches, 60 inches in width with an L hook

The top red is Loops & Threads Woolike in Red, this is a fingering weight yarn and took 150 stitches to be about 35 inches in width with an E hook

The greens are Scheepjes Chunky Monkey in Pickle – 100 stitches is 45 inches wide with a G hook

The upper green is actually a teal but it looks great on the tree! It’s Red Heart Hygge in Teal, 75 stitches is 40 inches with an I hook

Pattern Notes

  • For starting stitches, I recommend a Stacked Double Crochet. I find this leaves no gap in my work, as a chain 3 might, and is less noticeable than a standing double crochet. This also alleviates the need to make a chain stitch at the beginning of a row, leaving a nice smooth edge when you are finished. To make a STDC: place 1 SC in first stitch. Slip your hook between the two legs of this SC coming out the left side and pull up a loop (just the same as with any stitch but on the side of the stitch instead of the top), pull through both loops on your hook. You have now stacked two single crochets on top of each other, making a double crochet. You can repeat this as many times as needed to achieve the height. Three stacked single crochets = treble crochet, etc.
  • This garland is infinitely adjustable. For wider garland, use larger gauge yarn or repeat Row 2 until desired width. For longer lengths, just increase the number of chains. The sky is the limit!
  • I find it easier to work with garland in varying lengths. Get a rough estimate of the width across the bottom of your tree, and start from there. For my 6.5 foot tinsel tree, I needed 60 inches to drape the bottom properly. I started with a bulky weight yarn, chained 150 stitches. With a worsted weight, I would have used 200 stitches. But, the beauty of this pattern is that there is no need to count. You can chain until you achieve the desired length, and add a little extra for drape.
  • My highest red garland in the photo is made with a fingering weight yarn. It is more delicate than the other strands, and so I repeated Row 3 an extra time. I like the delicate look it achieved!

Pattern Instructions

  1. CH desired number of stitches for width of tree, adding a little for drape
  2. Working in back hump of chain, make a stacked DC in 2nd hump, CH 1. DC, CH 1 in every hump across, turn
  3. STDC in first stitch, CH 1. (DC, CH1) x 2 in next CH-SP. Repeat in every CH-SP across, DC in final stitch, turn. Fasten off. If you need to add width, (using finer yarn, or just want wider garland) do not fasten off, repeat this row until desired width is achieved.

It is that time of year again. Thanksgiving is Thursday and everyone is busy decking the halls and gearing up for Christmas. We have a shorter than usual holiday season this year, with Thanksgiving falling on the 28th, the latest day it can fall.

So I have the perfect, super fast, STASHBUSTER project for you! It requires virtually NO counting, and is so simple you can do it without even looking at your pattern. In the past two days I’ve covered my 6.5 foot tinsel tree in garland and have the foundation for an adorable crafty Christmas tree.

Best of all, I’ve done it with leftover yarn from other projects. So no money spent! Woohoo! I love how it’s different textures, colors, shades of red, green, and white. I’m still making some snowflakes to decorate, but in the meantime, it’s festive and cheery.

The secret is in the lengths. You do not want one gigantic piece of garland to wrap around your tree. First, that’s really time consuming to make, it gets all tangled as you’re trying to decorate your tree, and even more so when you take it down and store it. So make life easier, and makeseveral different lengths based on the size of your tree. I just eyeballed it, but if you want to measure, start at the bottom and make the biggest piece first. The rest will be so much easier!

I’ve used Bernat Piqsueak in Whitey White for the white, which is a furry, snow like look. My three reds are Stylecraft Special 4 ply in Lipstick at the bottom, Bernat Blanket in Race Car Red in the middle, and at the top is Loops & Threads Woolike in Red. The greens are Scheepjes Chunky Monkey in Pickle and the upper one is actually a teal but it looks great on the tree! It’s Red Heart Hygge in Teal. Like I said, I dug around in my stash and this is what I’ve come up with. I’m considering adding a few more lengths and making a rainbow!

Click HERE for the next page with all the pattern information!

Counting counting counting, blah! It’s one of the most dreaded tasks second only to sewing in ends. But, it’s almost the most important. Even the most seasoned crochet professional needs to count. One stitch off can throw everything into chaos and your finished project will be crooked.

I have a couple tricks I use to keep track on really long stretches. This is where stitch markers come in handy. There are a number of different styles, but I definitely have a preference. And note, stitch markers for crochet work can be different than stitch markers that knitters use. We crocheters want our stitch markers to mark our actual stitch, so they need to be removable. Knitters sometimes use markers on their actual needles so they don’t go around the yarn and slide back and forth on the needle. Make sure you buy stitch markers and not stitch RING markers.

Since our markers go on and off our stitches, they have an opening somewhere. Some people like the kind that slip on an off with one hand. Like these:

Those are split rings, so they’re open on one side. Super handy to put on when you have one hand available, but as easy as they slip on, they slip off that easily too. So, not favorite for a project I’m putting in and out of a bag. Maybe okay for at home use though?

So my favorite markers are locking stitch markers. And for me personally, the more the better! These babies have a way of disappearing on me. They’re small and when you’re working quickly, sometimes they don’t get put back in the case so they slip to the bottom of the bag, and you know the rest. I also have a tendency to pull out a bunch when I’m getting ready to crochet a long chain so I can access them quickly. And a few inevitably fall off the arm of the chair I’m sitting on, or off my lap, etc, etc. So buy a BUNCH! I like these myself:

I’ve also tried these, but they are not as easy to slip on and off, so I prefer the safety pin style. The little point on the safety pin makes it easier to put your marker precisely where you want it.

Once you have your stitch markers in hand, they are super handy when it comes to counting. Let’s say I’m starting an afghan and it has 212 starting stitches. Keeping track of 212 stitches can be a nightmare, even if you’re all alone in a room with zero distractions. So, I start placing a marker every 50 stitches. Now this number can change the more distractions I have. If I’m watching a tv show with my family, it goes down to 25, but if I’m chatting with my girlfriends at a coffee shop, that can go all the way down to 10 stitches! So I chain my 10 stitches, count, add a marker and keep going. Once I’ve placed that marker, I trust that the number of stitches before it is correct and then I only have to count my markers. This way I’m never at stitch 195 and have to start all over again. Saves me a lot of frustration!

For basic patterns I frequently keep a marker in place every 25-50 stitches, moving them up in my work either as I go or every couple of rows. But, if I move them, I ALWAYS count to make sure they’re still in place. Ever had an afghan that looks perfectly fine, but when you fold it in half you notice the edges are not the same length? We don’t want that to happen so count, count, count!

I do find that the less complicated the pattern, the more frequently I have to use markers. 100 stitches of double crochet is much harder to keep track of than 20 shells of five double crochets, even though they are the same number of stitches. So don’t be stingy with your counting and using markers just because the pattern is easy!

Happy Hooking everyone!

Omg, what has taken me so long to try this yarn??? It has instantly become my new favorite. Maybe it’s the cold weather, but it has totally renewed my love for wool.

First, it has amazing stitch definition. I’m remaking a scarf in a pattern I developed last year using a locally made hand spun and dyed yarn. The scarf has cables framing the center and they just pop right off the background.

Popping cables!

Next it comes in a rainbow of colors. It’s rare to find a high quality yarn with such a wide range of shades. LoveCrafts stocks 51 colors and has it on sale right now for $5.85. It’s typically $6.50 and doesn’t go on sale often.

But, the reason I adore this yarn is because it’s so soft and squishy. Like wrap yourself in wool and feel the lovely texture against your skin soft. It’s amazing on my hook, sliding smoothly and evenly. It is a tiny bit splitty but the stitches are so crisp I’ve caught any splits quickly.

I’m so excited to work with it I’ve already ordered more and have a turtle themed shawl planned to make with it. I can’t wait!

If you order from LoveCrafts, mention my name in the referral and you’ll get 15% off, as will I, so it’s a win/win!

Happy Hooking!

Wool. There’s merino, superwash, alpaca, mohair, highland, llama, cashmere, qiviut, camel, angora, lambswool, ACK! Oh, and some parts of the world refer to yarn generically as wool, so do they buy wool wool and acrylic wool????

With so many wools to choose from, how do you know what to get? And what do you do with it when you’re done? Is there anything that really SHOULD be made from wool as opposed to cotton or a synthetic?

I’ll try to help, but a lot of the answers come down to personal preference and experience. I never cared for wool before I got serious crocheting. It was all too scratchy for me. Even mohair made me sniffly and itchy. I’ve since learned that the way wool is finished can affect how much I like wool, but there are some that I like better than others.

To finish most wool projects, I soak in a lanolin no rinse solution. I like Eucalan Unscented but Eucalan Lavender is also nice if you can tolerate light fragrances. This softens up the fibers considerably and helps set the stitches in places in place when you block your finished project. You do not need to use Eucalan every time you wash a wool item, but every few washes is good. I add one capful to a sinkful of water and let it soak at least an hour. The great think about Eucalan is it does not require rinsing, so you can just block or shape your item to dry after it’s soaked. If something is making me particularly itchy, a Eucalan soak frequently solves that problem.

A good, safe wool to start with is Merino. You don’t want it to feel super scratchy in the hank or skein when you buy it, but a little bit of scratchiness is okay – that will improve with a soak. Merino has a huge advantage in that in almost all cases, it’s washable. If it doesn’t specifically say “machine washable” the best way is just to soak it in something like Eucalan, as I mentioned above.

Merino is considerably softer than what I expected wool to be before I started using it. It comes in a wide variety of textures and weights, so that will play a huge factor in project selection. Finer wool makes thinner, drapier projects, but can still provide warmth, breathability, and even some water resistance. So it’s great for things like shawls, sweaters, clothing items in general. As long as you wash it gently, Merino doesn’t tend to pill and has really nice stitch definition.

Alpaca and Llama yarn are very similar. They can be extremely soft, so they are nice when used close to the skin or as an added fiber to soften a coarser or scratchier wool. I simply LOVE this yarn and it’s very affordable. https://www.lovecrafts.com/en-us/p/cascade-alpaca-lace-1 (mention my name, Caroline Cameron, and you’ll get 15% off your first purchase!) Alpaca and Llama have a little bit of a halo, which is the fuzzy bit that kind of glows off the project. This doesn’t make my nose tickle the way Mohair can, but it does irritate some people. You should probably feel it before investing too much in a project.

Highland wool comes from not Scotland, but Peru’s Highlands. It does tend to be scratchy… at first… but over time it softens up and is highly durable. It provides extra warmth and will last your entire lifetime, and probably your grandchildren’s lifetimes too!

There are many, many different types of wool but these are just a few of my favorites. I’m making a scarf right now with a very popular wool that I haven’t used before. I’ll post a review when I’m done, and the pattern.

Important note: All wool must be washed carefully lest you shrink and/or felt your project. An adult man’s sweater could come out toddler size if you wash it on hot and put it in the dryer!

Happy hooking all!