So, I’ve really been struggling with what I understood about copyright laws. Specifically why companies like Disney are protected but lowly designers like me are not. I have been told from numerous sources that the words in your pattern are protected but nothing is stopping anyone else from making their own version of your pattern using their own words. And, in fact, I’ve even been told that designers all know this and struggle with it, but don’t talk about it because of how vulnerable it makes us all.

I am here to tell you THAT IS WRONG!!! And, oh my gosh, thank GOODNESS for that. I have been paralyzed by fear because of this. I have so many patterns waiting to be released and my biggest obstacle has been the thought of people taking my creative ideas and publishing themselves. Someone who is better known could easily get better exposure than I can and that just terrified me.

I have been digging and digging trying to find an answer that I could live with. And, I think I made more than a few people angry with my questions. But, it all led to this.

“Copyright protects original “pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works,” which include two- and three-dimensional works of fine, graphic, and applied art. Examples of such works include … Patterns for sewing, knitting, crochet, needlework …” all copied from page 1 of this document.

Huzzah! I’ve read the copyright law and it’s not specifically stated in the original law, but as you can see, there are at least 40 circulations that expand upon the initial legalese, and that’s a pretty big mountain of paperwork I hadn’t tackled.

So, spread the word far and wide. This is a common misunderstanding in the crochet/knitting world. Patterns are, in fact, protected by copyright laws.

And if you want to double down on your protect, you can register your work at this link. for $35.

Now that I have a better understanding, I’m no longer fuming at the injustice of corporations having access to something the little guy does not. We are protected! Designs are protected! I can relax now and that feels so much better!

The following post has been updated here: 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: 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… ) 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!

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!

This is something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about recently. How do I best tap into my creative resources and help things flow more freely? Are there habits I need to work on to make this easier? What’s holding me back and how do I work on overcoming those obstacles?

I listened to a podcast over the summer that really helped motivate me. Start With This by the makers of Welcome to Nightvale. It talks about creativity being a muscle you need to exercise, just like any other muscle, in order to strengthen it. I set a goal for myself after the first episode to write two blog posts per week and see how that went.

So, how did I do? In two months, I published 20 posts. That’s more than my goal! Nailed it!

What have I noticed? It has gotten easier. This post right now is a little off topic, but it’s important to note that setting goals for yourself helps you accomplish things.

In that same time period, I have designed 3 items, a hat, a scarf, and a shawl. But, are they ready for publishing? No way! That’s my next big goal. I really need to look at what’s holding me back to conquer that one. I’m nervous. I’m worried that my written versions won’t communicate clearly the steps required to make the items I’ve designed.

In the meantime, I’ve been working on my style sheet and I’m pleased with the progress I’m making. I’m tweaking the blog trying to find the right layout and design features that work the best. And I’m crocheting like mad. The creative process is actually the easiest part of all of this for me. I have so many ideas! But, getting them out of my head and into the world is what needs the most attention.

Patience, grasshopper, patience. It’s coming…

So, last week I celebrated my 50th birthday by heading to Hatteras, NC. If you’re not familiar with Hatteras, it’s at the VERY bottom of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It’s remote, and small, and rarely crowded – my kind of place!

We stayed in a lovely little house across the highway from the ocean. Now, let me clarify that statement a little bit. “Highway” is kind of a grandiose word for a two lane road that divides the ocean side from the sound side. And, in case you think of acres of land when you hear that, let me clarify even further. The island is less than a football field wide where we stayed. From the back deck, you could see the ocean AND the sound at the same time. It widens up a teensy tiny bit below us, but then the road ends and there’s just ocean beyond. It was amazing!

Amazing and awesome and kind of intimidating, to be perfectly honest. Hurricane Melissa was living just off shore for most of the week we were there. The first couple of days were spectacular – high 70s/low 80s, nice breeze, just perfect weather. Except the ocean was rough. Way too rough to swim. I was nervous if anyone got in the water past their calves. The waves were crashing HARD up on the shore and the rip current was stronger than I’ve ever seen. There were visible troughs. Scary stuff!

The middle part of the week was dreary. My husband and son went home and my daughter and I stayed in and crocheted and watched many episodes of Veronica Mars. Not a bad way to spend a vacation, IMHO.

But, then my friend Christine arrived, and just a couple hours later, the storm effects took hold for realz. We had literally no idea what was coming, but apparently this is every day life for the locals, so they were unperturbed. Mostly.

The weather stayed lovely, but the surf kicked up a few notches. Now remember up above where I mentioned how narrow the island is? It’s even narrower in some parts. Just North of Rodanthe, there’s a tiny strip of road that is protected from the ocean by only some 10 foot tall dunes. and the other side is a narrow strip of marsh that leads to the sound. I’m talking like 100 feet wide at the most. It’s narrow. They are building a bridge that will go over this stretch of sand bar and connect the northern banks to the southern banks.

But, in the meantime, they are treated to this excitement periodically.

With very little notice, the ocean just crept up, knocked down the dunes and covered the road with sand and water.

And just like that, we were stranded.

In all my life, I have never considered the ocean more than just a beautiful and awe inspiring place to lose myself and enjoy. But, this trip, that changed. I saw the ocean soooo much bigger. So much more awe inspiring. And, a little bit like an enemy.

All day for three days, NCDOT would hustle between high and low tide to shovel back the sand and rebuild the dunes. And then high tide would come along and knock the dunes down again. Nighttime was just lost. It’s so dangerous, so powerful, if they can’t see well enough, it’s just not a good idea to drive a bulldozer in crashing waves and hope for the best. So, two high tides worth of sand would accumulate and two high tides worth of waves would crash down the dunes overnight. And they would start all over again.

Meanwhile, on shore, the weather was beautiful! Still couldn’t swim because the surf was so rough, but you would never know that we were dealing with hurricane aftermath just by stepping outside.

Unless you lived in Avon. Which was under about 5 inches of water in some places, and more than a foot in others. It was intense.

But, we made it home after a few days. It was kind of touch and go whether we’d be able to leave on Sunday as planned, but NCDOT worked hard and we were able to leave. There was still lots of water on the road, which was partly due to ocean overwash and partly due to seepage from being on just a low sand bar.

I love Hatteras, but that may be my last visit. Now that I’m home again, I’m so happy to have all the land around me keeping the ocean far far away. And, I think I want it to stay that way.

When I attended the Crochet Guild of America conference in July, I discovered that I have the qualifications to be recognized as an Associate Professional with Crochet Guild of America. I love CGOA and I’m proud to have earned this title.

My process may be slow, but I’m moving forward steadily towards my goals. I need to continue posting to this blog regularly, get my patterns up here, round out the technical information I’ve been writing so I have more resources to refer back to, and make my presence known.

Watch out World, here I come!

Caroline Cameron, Associate Professional with CGOA

I’m finishing up my last project, which was Lilla Bjorn’s Stained Glass Wonder Blanket and I already have the yarn for something new. It doesn’t have a name yet, but I’m super excited about it.

I met this beautiful yarn at the CGOA conference in July and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. It’s a cotton blend with metallic threads running through it. It’s soft and cuddly but soooo blingy! My kind of yarn! And the metallic touches are pleasant on the skin, which is such a nice surprise! I knew I needed this in my life and the wheels started turning instantly.

Once I saw the beautiful shades this yarn comes in, I knew what needed to be done. A capelet, with a high collar and maybe some fringe. I love the copper, rose gold, and black. I can’t wait to share the finished project!

For now… ponder this image…

Isn’t it fabulous?!

UFOs, they’re everywhere.

My living room, my bedroom, my Yarn Vault. And before I can really get started publishing, I need to whittle down some of my UFOs or I’ll never get them done.

You know what I mean, right? Unfinished Objects. /sigh/ I hate having something unfinished, especially when I’ve been looking forward to using them when they’re complete. So, publishing is waiting a little bit until I finish the blanket I’m currently working on.

It’s quite lovely, actually. Lilla Bjorn’s Stained Glass Wonder Blanket.

Just a few more octagons and I will be done. And, then watch out! Lots of things in the wings to share with you!

Like a high collar capelet I can’t wait to show you! Little hint… it uses this gorgeous yarn in Rose Gold, Copper, and Onyx.

I have been working furiously behind the scenes trying to organize my overly massive yarn stash. You know the type – a few boxes here, some bags of yarn stored in my bedroom closet, some baskets full in the living room, unfinished objects stored here there and everywhere – it’s totally out of hand!

Back in January, I decided that everyone else in my home had their own space and I deserved some too! I’m the mom, after all. Why am I the last to have a space of my own? So, I set about cleaning out the chaos that was our “game room”. It was full of unused homeschool supplies, various items that nobody knew what to do with, and lots of video games that my son played in there. With his help, we whittled down the mess and I was able to create a nice living space in there. I like it a lot! But, so does everyone else, lol, so the space mom set up for herself is also communal. Isn’t that the way it goes?

But, I’m getting more serious about getting my business started and that meant phase 2 kicked into high gear after the conference. There isn’t a lot of storage space in this room and all the floor space is taken up by the big comfy sofa and my desk so I had to get creative.

Enter pegboard!

I covered the one big wall that has no windows or doors with pegboard. 10 pieces of 2×4 foot pegboard, to be precise. It is a hugely versatile storage solution and I encourage you to consider too. Best part, it’s affordable! And modular so you can build it as you need it!

Just a couple more to go!

Once the wall was in place, I started with one hundred 4 inch hooks. They hold about 1 ball each. Anyone know how long that lasted? About 2 hours before I realized I needed a lot more.

Now some people get all tidy and wind each ball on their winders, but who’s got time for that! I decided to go with a more lackadaisical method – hang it the way it is. So some is hung as balls, some as cakes, some as skeins, some as hanks. I didn’t get too hung up on color perfection either. I did mostly an arc that follows the colors of the rainbow but there’s room for expansion at the top and bottom. The result is a beautiful piece of wall art that gets all my yarn where I can see it for inspiration.

Not totally finished but all the yarn from one room is managed!

Want to build your own? Here’s a quick list of all the supplies I used:

4 inch hooks – the vast majority of my yarn is hung on these hooks. I can fit most medium balls and cakes on these hooks. I have purchased 350, but in the pictures on this post, I have only used about 250:

10 inch hooks – hold 3 small balls of thread, 2 large balls of thread, larger skeins of yarn like RHSS, or multiple hanks of yarn. I currently have 100 but will soon be ordering more:

50 total small plastic hooks in two shapes – these are to display finished projects and support my Yarn Vault sign. One package is all you need to do a wide variety of tasks.

12 inch hooks – these aren’t really necessary, but they hold large skeins of yarn slightly better than the 10 inch hooks. I’m only using a few here and there.