Basic Copyright for Crocheters

Most designers have seen a pattern and thought that they could take it and put their own spin on it. Or they’ve come up with a great idea by seeing something else. There is a fine line between an original design and copy someone else’s work. Some things border on that fine line, while others are just plain and simple wrong. Let’s take a basic look at some copyright issues.

 

Designing Your Own Crochet Pattern Series - Basic Copyright for Crocheters

 

Welcome to Part 6 of the “Designing Your Own Crochet Pattern” Series. This series guides you through the basics of crochet pattern design. If you’re just joining us and would like to start at the beginning, read Part 1 – the 6 Basic Steps of the Design Process. Even if you have no desire to be a designer, you can still benefit from this series.

Basic Copyright for Crocheters

 

The term “copyright” gets thrown around a lot in the crochet world, but what exactly is copyright? Copyright, by webster’s definition, is “the exclusive right to make copies, license, and otherwise exploit literary, musical, or artistic work, whether printed, audio, video, etc.: works granted such right by law on or after January 1, 1978, are protected for the lifetime of the author or creator and for a period of 70 years after his or her death.” 

What does all that mean in layman’s terms? It means don’t copy someone else’s work, plain and simple. There are a bunch of legal aspects that I am choosing not to cover because I’m not a lawyer and don’t want to misspeak, but here are 5 things that are a given.

 

Do Not . . . . 

 

Copy Other designs

Some people claim they look at an item and can figure out how to crochet it so they don’t need to buy the pattern. That’s great, but that doesn’t mean you can then write the pattern and sell it as your own. Plenty of designers get ideas from crochet pieces they see. But they come up with their own ideas or spin on what they’ve seen. I’ve heard figures of everything from 10% – 20% needs to be changed, but an article from Vogue Knitting states that there is not legal percentage. It has more to do with whether or not your interpretation relies too heavily on their idea. Even if you take their design and write your own pattern for it, it’s still violating copyright.

Rewrite or Share Patterns

Do not take a purchased (or free) copy of a pattern and rewrite it into your own words/terms. Just as you cannot copy a pattern and “reword” it to make it your own, you also cannot share a pattern you have purchased with a friend. Even if the design is free, send them to the designer.

Use Someone Else’s Photos

Do not share photos from a designer to sell your finished product of that item, or for any other purpose. I once purchased a crochet book and to my surprise found one of my tutorial photos used in the book! That’s copyright infringement!

Make or Sell any Logo Items

NFL, NASCAR, Star Wars, Disney, Pokemon, etc. – they are all copyrighted, and without permission you are violating a copyright law. And believe me, they will take you down if they choose to. Companies like these have been know to police Etsy on a regular basis, not to mention they have had shop’s that violate their trademarks closed. That’s being nice. They have the right to sue you for thousands if they choose to.

Make or Sell Characters

If you create a pattern, or a physical item (hat, blanket, etc) to visually look like a character from a movie you are still infringing on their trademark. Most companies (like Disney) register the look of the character as well. (Ex: Storm trooper helmets have a trademark attached to them and you cannot make any helmet/hat to look like it.)

Use Character Names

Come up with your own original pattern name. Honestly, there are some names you could easily argue and get away with (Ex: Pocahontas headband). But there are others that are too obvious to be your original idea (Ex: Minions). Many companies also trademark their character names. (See the Star Wars link above. Disney is suing a company that makes holograms because they are calling themselves LEIA – and Pokemon is suing a company for using the word Pokemon in their name).

 

Be Original

 

Things like the granny square do not have a copyright, but if you were to copy either the design for my Vintage 60’s prayer shawl, or the written pattern itself, that would be copyright infringement.

You want your pattern to be original because it will represent you and your brand. It’s easy to jump on the bandwagon because everyone else is doing it, but it’s not worth it. Be original. Be yourself.

If you need help coming up with design ideas, see my post: Finding the Perfect Design Ideas.

 

For more on this series, read:

Part 1 – 6 Basic Steps of the Design Process
Part 2 – Finding the Perfect Design Ideas
Part 3 – Finding Your Designing Niche
Part 4 – Creating Your Brand
Part 5 – Steps to Publishing Your Crochet Pattern
Part 7 – Should You Charge for Patterns? The Free vs. Paid Dilemma

 

Happy Designing!

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Steps to Publishing a Crochet Pattern

Publishing a crochet pattern can be a lot of fun but the pattern writing process is a lot more involved than most crocheters think. We don’t just come up with an idea, write the pattern, and then poof – we publish it. There are so many behind the scene steps that go into the process and pattern writing isn’t the end of that process. A lot more work needs to be done before your pattern is ready to publish. You designed it, you created it, now it’s time to take the next steps.

 

 

Designing Your Own Crochet Pattern Series - Steps to Publishing Your Crochet Pattern

 

Welcome to Part 5 of the “Designing Your Own Crochet Pattern” Series. This series guides you through the basics of crochet pattern design. If you’re just joining us and would like to start at the beginning, read Part 1 – the 6 Basic Steps of the Design Process. Even if you have no desire to be a designer, you can still benefit from this series.

 

Steps to Publishing a Crochet Pattern

 

Publishing your crochet pattern can be done a couple different ways. You can sell your pattern to a publisher or yarn company or you can be an indie designer and self-publish your patterns. The quick difference is that is you sell your pattern you are basically giving up your rights to it. Some publishers will only hold onto that right for the first year, others keep it for life. An indie designer will go through the steps of publishing and marketing their pattern on their own, in turn keeping 100% of the profits. Most designers in the industry will now do both. They will attempt to sell an idea to a publisher and if the publisher isn’t interested then they can go ahead and self-publish the idea. The steps below will prepare you for self-publishing.

 

Design It, Create It, Publish It

 

Design It – At the beginning of this series we covered the 6 steps to designing your crochet pattern. The designing step includes everything from the idea you get to making the swatch.

Create It – The “create it” section involves the actual crocheting of the item as well as writing up the pattern. You can do these two steps separately or at the same time. I personally prefer to write the pattern as I go because I have mommy brain sometimes.

Publish It – For most designers, the process of actually crocheting the project is the fun part. Then they just want to hit publish ad move on to the next design idea. As tempting as it is, don’t do it! These next two steps are where many new designers cut corners. (I used to be guilty of the same thing!) But these steps are the most crucial to customer satisfaction.

  • Test – Find yourself a good pattern tester. If you have a business page on FB you can just ask and you’ll get volunteers. I currently have 3 amazing testers that I recruited that way!
  • Tech Edit – Not everyone will agree with me 100% on this, but you need to have someone tech edit your patterns. (For more info on what a tech editor does see my tech editor info page). No matter how hard you try you cannot edit your own pattern for errors because you know what you want it to say. I am a tech editor and I miss my own mistakes. It’s just a necessary part of the process.

 

You’re Done!

 

Now you can publish your pattern!

You want your pattern to be as close to perfect as possible before releasing it to the public. By doing this you will save on questions from customers who either find mistakes, or they don’t understand something in the pattern itself. Publishing as an indie designer can be fun and rewarding as long as you’re not cutting corners.

 

For more on this series, read:

Part 1 – 6 Basic Steps of the Design Process
Part 2 – Finding the Perfect Design Ideas
Part 3 – Finding Your Designing Niche
Part 4 – Creating Your Brand
Part 6 – Basic Copyright for Crocheters
Part 7 – Should You Charge for Patterns? The Free vs. Paid Dilemma

 

Happy Designing!

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Creating Your Crochet Brand

When I began designing 9 years ago I didn’t think about things like branding. I didn’t ever think that almost 10 years later there would be hundreds of designers and I would need to distinguish myself from everyone else out there. Yet, here I am trying to be seen in a sea of creatives that are doing the same thing as me and I’ve been wondering – would my customers be able to pick my patterns out of a lineup with other designers? I’m not sure the answer is yes. So I’ve been working on creating a brand for my crochet designs that will help my customers know my work from other designers’ and make it easier for them to find me.

 

Designing Your Own Crochet Pattern Series - Creating Your Brand

 

Welcome to Part 4 of the “Designing Your Own Crochet Pattern” Series. This series will guide you through some of the basics of crochet pattern design. If you’re just joining us and would like to start at the beginning, read Part 1 – the 6 Basic Steps of the Design Process. Even if you have no desire to be a designer, you can still benefit from this series.

 

Creating Your Brand

 

The definition of brand is “a kind or variety of something distinguished by some distinctive characteristic.” Tons of brand name companies have made themselves distinctive in some way. Nike has the all familiar check mark logo. In the crochet world you would be able to pick out the Red Heart logo, or Tulip Crochet Hooks with their signature gray cushion on the handle. I don’t even need to show you the photos! These brands have distinguished themselves among the competition because of their branding.

Branding is the action (verb) form of the word brand. It’s creating a brand for your crochet designs that will make you stand out. What will you do to set your brand apart from everyone else? How will you make your items/patterns recognizable?

 

Branding Ideas

 

Earlier in this series we talked about finding your designing niche. While your niche is more about narrowing down what you want to specialize in, branding is more about how you’re going to market your items to your customers. Your brand doesn’t always have to be a logo. Sometimes it’s just a “look” you have adapted into your business such as color, photography, and designing elements. Here are some designers and businesses that have done a superb job at their branding!

 

Color

 

Color is a great way to brand your designs. Below I have 2 very different examples of how these 2 ladies have perfectly branded their designs using color. Heidi from Snappy Tots uses bright and happy colors, mixed with fun and sometimes whimsical designs. Heidi May from The Velvet Acorn uses neutral colors and has an outdoor, woodsy feel to her designs. But both of these ladies patterns are fully recognizable by the way they have branded their designs.

 

   Snappy_mediumSnappy Tots

 

The Velvet Acorn

 

 

Photography

 

Photography is another great way to brand yourself. DROPS Designs has done an amazing job making their patterns recognizable by their photography. All of their photos use either the water or the mountains in the background and I can pick out one of their patterns very easily.

 

Free PatternDrops Designs/GarnStudio

Design Elements

 

I’m spotlighting Shelby Allaho’s designs here because she has done a fantastic job with branding her designs. She creates items that stand out as her own and I can tell one of her designs as soon as I see it. She uses things you would see in every day life and then finds a way to incorporates them into her designs. The reason I’m including this here, instead of in my Finding Your Niche post, is because it’s about her using this as her brand. Anyone can use neckwear as their niche, but you won’t be able to spot a specific designer unless they brand themselves.

 

Designing Your Own Crochet Pattern Series: Creating Your Brand - Shelby AllahoShelby Allaho

 

Please note: Do not copy these ladies! Come up with your own strategy. These are just examples of what can be done with branding.

 

You want your customers to be able to spot your patterns before they know that it’s you and branding will be such an important way for you to get recognized and noticed. Narrowing down your niche and then creating your brand will help you create patterns your customers will love.

 

For more on this series, read:

Part 1 – 6 Basic Steps of the Design Process
Part 2 – Finding the Perfect Design Ideas
Part 3 – Finding Your Designing Niche
Part 5 – Steps to Publishing Your Crochet Pattern
Part 6 – Basic Copyright for Crocheters
Part 7 – Should You Charge for Patterns? The Free vs. Paid Dilemma

 

Happy Designing!

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Find Your Designing Niche

Are you all over the place with your design ideas? (This used to be me!) Do you have tons of ideas but feel scattered? Or maybe you have been designing by request and are consequently feeling burned out. It’s time to define your niche. Once you find your designing niche it will help you stay focused on specific types of projects. The more you can hone in on your niche, the more you will be know for those kinds of patterns, and customers will turn to you to find what they’re looking for.

 

Designing Your Own Crochet Pattern Series - How to Find Your Designing Niche

 

Welcome to Part 3 of the “Designing Your Own Crochet Pattern” Series. This series will guide you through some of the basics of crochet pattern design. If you’re just joining us and would like to start at the beginning, read Part 1 – the 6 Basic Steps of the Design Process. Even if you have no desire to be a designer, you may enjoy this series. It will give you some valuable insight into the work that goes on behind the scenes of designing crochet patterns.

 

Finding or Creating Your Niche

 

You may be asking yourself why you need a niche when it comes to pattern design. Let’s take a step back and define exactly what a niche is. By webster’s definition a niche (pronounced nich) is:

  1. a place or position suitable or appropriate for a person or thing – ex: to find one’s niche in the business world
  2. a distinct segment of the market

So, your designing niche will define what segment of the design market you want to fit into.

 

Finding Your Designing Niche

 

The best way to narrow down what kind of patterns you would like to design is to ask yourself these 3 questions.

What do you love to make? What makes you passionate about crochet? Only design things that make you happy and put a smile on your face. Designing for other people won’t ignite your passion, not to mention it could burn you out. Trust me, I know from experience!

What are your strengths? We all have strengths and weaknesses, and you need to know what yours are. If one of your strengths is Tunisian crochet you may want to consider designing some Tunisian patterns. Can you make the crocodile stitch look amazing? If not, do yourself a favor and don’t try to create a pattern using that stitch. Stick with what you’re good at.

What skill level are you crocheting at? If you’re at a beginner or intermediate level, don’t attempt to create an advanced level pattern. First start with easier designs, then you can work your way up to more advanced design ideas.

 

Designer Niche Examples

 

So you have some examples, I’ve put together a list of some designers that to me stand out as having an obvious niche.

Kristin Omdahl – Kristin does lacy, openwork patterns – tops and shawls for the most part.

Snappy Tots – Heidi has the most colorful, playful, fun designs.

Bonita Patterns is widely known for her use of the crocodile stitch. She incorporates it into anything and everything she creates.

Crafting Friends – Kate has primarily afghan patterns.

Two Brothers Blankets – Michelle creates primarily tops, but she does have some hats and wrist warmers mixed in.

I know a designer who only designs with cotton because it’s always hot where she lives.

Another designer I know works primarily with thread.

 

Go With It

 

But here’s the thing, when inspiration strikes with something else they listen. They aren’t so hung up on their niche that they never create anything else. It’s a guideline that will help your passion stay ignited. If you decide you are only going to create baby items, really consider whether you want to design a wedding shawl if someone asks you to. Some designers/crocheters will say that you can really design anything you want, and generally speaking you can. As a matter of fact I did it for a long time. But what happened is I burnt myself out by designing what I thought everyone else wanted me to design. I had lost my passion because I wasn’t creating those things I loved the most.

Your niche can be yarn related, color related, project related. It’s really up to you. Just make sure you define it so you don’t get distracted and end up all over the place. If you can stay true to yourself and your passion then your love for what you are creating will show in your design ideas.

For more on this series, read:

Part 1 – 6 Basic Steps of the Design Process
Part 2 – Finding the Perfect Design Ideas
Part 4 – Creating Your Brand
Part 5 – Steps to Publishing Your Crochet Pattern
Part 6 – Basic Copyright for Crocheters
Part 7 – Should You Charge for Patterns? The Free vs. Paid Dilemma

 

Happy Designing!

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Finding the Perfect Design Ideas

Do you look at a beautiful pattern and think, “That’s amazing! How did they come up that?” Design ideas can come from just about anywhere. The the beauty of designing a crochet pattern is that there is no right or wrong, just your imagination – with the exclusion of copyright. In fact, pattern ideas can be found anywhere. Each designer has a different approach as to where they get their ideas from and sometimes they get their ideas from multiple sources.

 

Designing Your Own Crochet Pattern Series - Finding the Perfect Design Ideas

 

Welcome to Part 2 of the “Designing Your Own Crochet Pattern” Series. This series is going to guide you through some of the basics of crochet pattern design. If you’re just joining us and would like to start at the beginning, read Part 1 – the 6 Basic Steps of the Design Process. Even if you have no desire to be a designer, you may enjoy this series. It will give you some valuable insight into the work that goes on behind the scenes of designing crochet patterns.

 

Finding the Perfect Design Ideas

 

Below are 6 basic places where design ideas can come from but you are not limited to just these. Imagination is key.

 

Stitch

 

Let crochet stitches be your inspiration. Battle of the Stitches (BOS) is a perfect example of this. If you’re not familiar with BOS, it’s a designer challenge. They give all the designers the same stitch to use, in addition to a theme. Then they have to come up with a design and make something in a specific amount of time. I designed my Gray Skies Gradient Shawl for that challenge with only the stitch they specified and it has become one of my best selling patterns.

 

Designing Your Own Crochet Pattern Series - Finding the Perfect Design Ideas - Gradient Shawl designed from a stitch.

 

Yarn

 

My Winter Berries Infinity scarf pattern was created with just the yarn. I had a friend who wanted me to make a scarf for his girlfriend, but all he gave me was the color of the yarn, no other ideas. Once I had the yarn it was up to me to create something with it. This is a great way to come up with ideas!

 

Designing Your Own Crochet Pattern Series - Finding the Perfect Design Ideas - Winter Berries Infinity Scarf designed using yarn as inspiration.

 

 

People

 

This is probably the place that I personally get my inspiration from the most. If I know who I want to make something for I can come up with a design idea that will be perfect for them (or at least I hope so).

I recently designed my Vintage 60’s Prayer Shawl for my Aunt Leslie. If you knew my aunt the one thing you would know about her is that she’s the #1 Beatles fan ever. No, really! I believe at one point she was president of their fan club and she has photos she took of them at their house (not stalking them, like relaxed photos of them like she was hanging out on a Sunday afternoon with them). Anyway, it was on my heart to make her a prayer shawl and I knew it somehow had to be Beatles related. How do you incorporate the Beatles into your design?? As soon as I saw Paul McCartney’s vest from their Magical Mystery Tour I knew that was it. Please note: If you have inspiration from something like this, make sure you’re not infringing on their copyright!

 

Designing Your Own Crochet Pattern Series - Finding the Perfect Design Ideas - Vintage 60's Prayer Shawl designed using my aunt as inspiration.

 

Nature

 

Look around. God has created so many masterpieces that we can use as inspiration. From a sunrise or sunset, as well as all creatures great and small, nature is the perfect place to come up with ideas. For instance, my Frog Pond afghan pattern was designed from just that….a frog pond. I created the afghan itself to look like rippling water then I created lily pads and a frog to go on top.

 

Designing Your Own Crochet Pattern Series - Finding the Perfect Design Ideas - The Frog Pond afghan was designed using a frog pond as inspiration and is complete with lily pads and a frog.

 

 

Theme

 

Another example is to use a theme as your inspiration. For my Play Ball Sports Fan baby set I used sports in general as my theme. You could also narrow it down to just one sport or pick a different theme like princesses. There are so many options!

 

Designing Your Own Crochet Pattern Series - Finding the Perfect Design Ideas - Little Sports Fan afghan & hat set was designed using sports as the theme.

 

 

Architecture

 

Another place designers find their inspiration is architecture. Whether it’s a building they saw in New York, or an archway in Paris there is inspiration all around you. For example, Sonya from Blackstone Designs saw a certain stitch that reminded her of a Colosseum and her Colosseum Cowl was born.

 

Designing Your Own Crochet Pattern Series - Finding the Perfect Design Ideas - Blackstone Design created this Colosseum Cowl with the Colosseum architecture in mind.

 

 

As shown above, design ideas can com from just about anywhere your imagination can take you. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box! Just remember, no design idea is perfect – which means, in addition to the fun part of designing, there will also be problems and kinks to work out. Determination as well as problem solving skills will be the 2 things you will need for more difficult designs.

For more on this series, read:

Part 1 – 6 Basic Steps of the Design Process
Part 3 – Finding Your Designing Niche
Part 4 – Creating Your Brand
Part 5 – Steps to Publishing Your Crochet Pattern
Part 6 – Basic Copyright for Crocheters
Part 7 – Should You Charge for Patterns? The Free vs. Paid Dilemma

 

Happy Crocheting!

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6 Basic Steps to Designing Crochet Patterns

Welcome to the “Designing Your Own Crochet Pattern” Series. This series will guide you through some of the basics of crochet pattern design. If you have no desire to be a designer, stick with me anyway. You may be able to gain some valuable insight into the work that goes on behind the scenes of designing crochet patterns.

 

Designing Your Own Crochet Pattern Series - 6 Basic Steps to Designing Crochet Pattern

 

Designing Your Own Crochet Pattern Series:

Steps to Designing Crochet Patterns

 

 

You look at this gorgeous crochet pattern and think, “I would love to be able to design a crochet pattern like that.” I would like to say it’s 3 easy steps…. Design it, Create it, Publish it but reality is, it’s not that easy! To help you get started designing crochet patterns let’s go over a few steps that every designer uses.

 

Basic Steps

All designers approach their design process a little bit differently. I asked a few of the designers I knew if they would share some insight into their process. I gave them 6 basic steps that almost all designers use and asked them to put them in the order they do them when designing a new pattern. Here’s mine to show you how it works.

  1. I get an idea.
  2. Then I pick out a yarn that I think will be perfect for my idea.
  3. Sometimes I will swatch it up to make sure I’ll like the yarn and stitch together.
  4. If I think a sketch will make the process faster, or if I’m submitting my idea to a magazine, I will work my not-so-artistic skills with a pencil.
  5. I crochet the project (probably everyone’s favorite part).
  6. Write the pattern. (I personally write the pattern as I crochet because I have too much going on in my life and I’ll forget what I did by tomorrow.)

 

Jocelyn Sass – Idea, Pick Out Yarn, Swatch, Sketch, Crochet Project, Write Pattern. (Jocelyn also writes her pattern as she goes.)

Brenda Bourg – Idea, Pick Out Yarn, Swatch, Sketch (sometimes), Crochet Project, Write Pattern.

April Garwood – Pick Out Yarn, Idea, Swatch, Sketch, Crochet Project, Write Pattern.

Susan Heyn –  Idea, Sketch, Pick Out Yarn, Swatch (sometimes), Crochet Project (Make Sample), Write Pattern.

Susan Lowman –  Idea, Pick Out Yarn, Swatch (if needed), Crochet Project, Write Pattern as I crochet project (usually on paper so I can change it as I go).  I rarely draw a sketch because I can see the idea in my head. But sometimes I will draw a sketch, especially if the idea is a design proposal to a publisher.

Sarah Read –  Idea, Sketch, Pick Out Yarn, Swatch, Crochet Project, Write Pattern.

Kristin Omdahl –  Kristin’s order changes depending on where she gets her idea from (which I’m sure all these designers have happen every so often). If she’s inspired by yarn she’ll start with the yarn and then come up with an idea for it. If she’s inspired by a stitch she’ll swatch it out, or sometimes she’ll just come up with an idea and then find the yarn for it, swatch it, etc.

As you can see each of these designers approaches their design work, each one is slightly different from the others. Even the most published designers don’t always do things the same, they mix it up too. I encourage you to visit each designers Ravelry shop (click on their names above) and see just how beautiful their designs are, even though they all design differently. Your designs can be equally as beautiful, no matter what order you go in.

 

Give it a Try

 

There is a lot of flexibility when it comes to designing crochet patterns. All you need is some imagination. But the design process also requires patience and it’s not for everyone. If you’re unsure about whether or not you want to try designing please read 10 Reasons NOT to be a Pattern Designer.

If you have designing questions please feel free to ask. I’ll do my best to answer them all in this series.

For more on this series, read:

Part 2 – Finding the Perfect Design Ideas
Part 3 – Finding Your Designing Niche
Part 4 – Creating Your Brand
Part 5 – Steps to Publishing Your Crochet Pattern
Part 6 – Basic Copyright for Crocheters
Part 7 – Should You Charge for Patterns? The Free vs. Paid Dilemma

 

 

Happy Crocheting!

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