Friday, September 04, 2009

Shared Creativity, Design and Viral Knits

My dear friend Bells has just written a post about viral knits, check it out. She talks about shared creativity and happiness in our crafty community, and it reminded me of some similar thoughts I have been having about designing and shared creative ideas.

It is a funny thing this design business. Relatively (?) simple one would think especially when you are designing a scarf. They way I see it there are 3 steps to designing a lace scarf
  • pick the lace design
  • Decide how wide you want the scarf to be
  • Knit it.
Now having (over)simplified designing a scarf, I should mention that I found there are other things to think about. How should I start my scarf? Does the yarn I am using suit this lace stitch pattern? Does my scarf need edging on the side? Which direction does the lace stitch need to face? Should I knit my scarf in two pieces? What method should I use to graft it together?

So then you start knitting. And you are feeling rather pleased with yourself. The lace stitch looks good. It suits the yarn you are using. It is going to look down right fabulous when you are finished. And then you hit a snag. There is an abbreviation in the stitch pattern you are using that you are unfamiliar with. So you Google the stitch pattern to see if any one on the internets has a better description of the lace pattern.

And then you find it. A scarf pattern using the same lace stitch.

So here is what I have learnt, my thoughts on designing knitted garments and some questions for you.

My thoughts.
  • I have read many posts on copyright and plagiarism in knitting and while I agree that this does unfortunately happen, I also believe that two (or more) people can have the same idea independently of each other.
  • Designing anything requires an idea.
  • Ideas are like a force in the universe.
  • You can bet if someone has an idea in Sydney, that someone else has the same idea in Tokyo. Or Mumbai. Or London.
  • I believe that no one person owns an idea.
  • They can be tapped into by anyone, anywhere.
  • So it makes sense that two (or more) people, on different sides of this small planet, can have the same idea and decide to design the same item using the same lace stitch.
  • Without having seen the others design.
  • Without having communicated the idea to the other person.
  • Even if one of the designs was made months or years before the other person had the same idea.
  • And while the idea is the same, the application of the idea is, I think, different.
  • BUT there are only so many ways a lace stitch pattern can be made into a scarf.
My question for you.
Should you publish the design if a design, using the same lace pattern on the same garment type, if it has been published before?

ps Bells, if this design becomes a viral knit I would be stoked!


Bells said...

i bet you would be very stoked!

i think about designing but never think my ideas are original enough. Then I see a new pattern for say, a cardigan, and I think well there's nothing stunningly original about that and someone published it! I think striving for absolute originality is just crazy. It's like advice on writing i once read - don't try to make your first novel the most outstanding, original piece of art ever written or you're going to set youself up to fail. Just write. See what happens.

So just design. And see what happens. And publish.

2paw said...

I 'designed' my Block of Chocolate' socks and lo and behold there were some White Chocolate socks At The Same Time. It's very B5/DS9 or Armageddon/Deep Impact. Ideas must be floating around in the ether and then hit people simultaneously. You must go ahead and publish your pattern, it is your idea for a scarf. There is nothing new in knitting, pretty much, so this is your original idea for a scarf. Happy designing!!

Nora said...

Remember my Donyale socks? Apparently, a very famous designer had already published a sock design using the same stitch pattern! Boy, did I hear about it from the "knitting designer police". Oh, and how could we forget my Stella pattern. They almost had a coronary over that one, remember?
Go ahead and publish your scarf pattern my love. The knitting designer police need to be stirred again. They've been oh-so-quiet lately... ;)

Rose Red said...

I say go for it. There will be people who disagree but it's clear from the hundreds of copyright discussions on ravelry that tensions seem to run high in this area.

Just remember who your friends were before you become famous!!