Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Pattern drama

Note:  I'm a little opinionated in this post, but I hate to see the bullying going on out there.  

This post is going to be about patterns that look similar from different designers.  For me, 99% of the time when I put out a new pattern, it's the first time I've tried making something like that, so even if there is a similar design out there....it's new to ME (as in, I've never made it before), and I've decided to write in my own style as I've found that a few people actually LIKE the way I write my patterns.  Do I want to copy other designers? No, of course not!!  But since I KNOW I am not copying their written patterns, they really just need to stop getting their panties in a bunch and worry about themselves.  And if any designer is really THAT worried about my pattern looking like theirs, contact me and we can talk about it!  We can get an impartial moderator involved...both of us can send our patterns to them to compare and have them decide!  I'm 100% sure that that would solve the problem, since I have my own style of writing, and I doubt that even though the end results look the same, that they will be identical patterns.  (unless of course, they copied me, hahaha)

Now this hasn't really been an issue for ME lately (I just wanted to bring up how it has affected me in the past), but I'm seeing it happen to a lot of other designers.  Mostly because they are designing "character" hats that are all going to look the same (if made to look like the character!) and sure enough, someone who already designed that character is going to speak up and start whining "she copied me!"....sometimes without even seeing the written pattern.  Now first of all, we need to get something straight, both of you are writing a pattern for a  trademarked or copyrighted character, which could land you in some hot water if the company finds you.  I haven't been through it personally (as I generally refrain from designing character patterns) but I do know they will at least send you a cease and desist order.  Second of all, just because YOU designed a pattern based on that character does not preclude any OTHER designer from also making a pattern based on that character, I don't know why YOU all of a sudden think you own that character, I think the company would beg to differ!! 

So, something I've learned along the way in my short career is to just design the best I can, and TRY not to worry about what the other designers are doing.  So when my customers see two similar designs but decide to go with MY pattern because they've learned to like my style, that's my goal.  To write a great pattern and make my customers happy.  

Now, back to my first paragraph, I realize I could expand on that a little bit more.  When I say, "it's new to ME"...that's because I am figuring out that design/stitch on my own and trying it for the first time by my own experimenting, I have not used someone else's pattern to learn it.  I have a large collection of "stitch" books and I literally browse through them for hours looking for inspiration.  What are "stitch" books, you ask?  They are books with lots of different ways to put crochet stitches together to create a design....but not an actual pattern.  The majority of my designs can be traced right back to these books and I can tell you EXACTLY where my inspiration came from.  Want a few examples??  My Mia Beanie is the "2 and 3" stitch, the Ashlyn Hat and Ashlyn baby bonnet are "posts and shells", all of my Star Stitch designs come from "eyelet stitch", the Victoria beanie and my Victorian baby bonnet are "textured sc/dc #3"...however these two patterns look VERY different because the Victoria was heavily modified to work in the round.  My Mia Beanie is another one I could talk about, it has the "butterfly effect" with the bling attached and there are quite a few other patterns like that, however, I waited a long time to write that pattern because I was looking for a nice textured stitch for the rest of the hat since I don't like hats in plain double crochet.  Anyone can do the same thing I do with these books, that's what they are for.  However, not everyone can do the math involved, or modify them to work in the round, or write out a pattern (with multiple sizes) clearly and concisely.  So, that's why not everyone writes patterns.  However, if two designers have the same books for inspiration, that could certainly explain why so many designs look alike.  And by the way, crochet has been around for years...there is really nothing new out there.  I realize when I put out a new pattern that even without looking, there are probably several other similar ones published already, but since I don't know how those other patterns are written, I'm going to put mine out there too.  If people don't like it, they don't have to buy my pattern.  Harsh, but true.  :)

Who knew there was all this drama in the crochet world??  Honestly people, there is a whole world of people out there to buy your patterns....trust me, there are more than enough customers for all of us.  And if you write a good pattern, those customers will come back to you.  And if you provide good customer service when you need to fix a problem, they will also come back to you.  Just something to think about!  I KNOW customers don't want to see all the drama...they just want to enjoy crocheting.  :)

Friday, April 12, 2013

The 'inspiration' behind the Adult Chunky Slipper pattern

First, a little history.  

In August of 2009, I quit my full-time job at a clinic so that I could stay home with my 2 year old daughter.  I had plans to expand my web design hobby into a career.  I also kept myself busy that first year by selling on eBay.  In November of 2010, I started crocheting again after a long hiatus.  First I tried a dog sweater, and then...well, I'll get to that.  I had only made afghans up to this point.  Both my grandmothers had a hand in teaching me to crochet when I was a little girl and I always loved it, but I didn't have a lot of time to crochet when I was working outside the home.  

So anyway, the next pattern I tried was a free one I found online, for a pair of toddler slippers.  This pattern got me HOOKED on crocheting again.  I learned some new stitches (front and back post double crochet) and it made me realize that when I got stuck, I could look online for help.  You can find that pattern here:  http://www.bevscountrycottage.com/bevs-winter-slippers.html 

Over the next couple of months I tried more free patterns, then I eventually got brave and bought one online.  At that point, the web design was kind of sporadic since I was just relying on word-of-mouth and hadn't really done any advertising...and I was watching my spending, so it was a little nerve-wracking buying patterns that I wasn't sure if I'd be able to follow.  But I was having so much fun trying new patterns and very quickly realized I was modifying them to put my own spin on them.  I wrote my first pattern just a month or two later.  Because I jumped into designing patterns so quickly, I sometimes feel like it was a little bit too rushed....but I have learned soooo much along the way, thanks to some fabulous pattern testers (and friends) that have helped me grow.

Fast forward to June of 2012...I was having incredible success selling my patterns...so much more than I ever dreamed possible.  Enough so that I was able to quit the web design business entirely (although I still have a few clients I work with).  Then one day I get an email question from a lady who bought a pattern from me and can you imagine the THRILL I felt when I realized it was Bev Qualheim...the lady who wrote the slipper pattern that inspired me to get back into crochet?!?!  I couldn't believe it!!  I wrote to her right away (and of course refunded her money for the hat pattern as a 'thank you' for inspiring me) and told her how excited I was that she found my patterns, and how she inspired me.  

Over the years I've made many slippers and by no means do I wish to take credit for the IDEA of these slippers.  I've just expanded the sizing, added more details and tweaked it a little bit. So with all of that, I wish to thank Bev Qualheim and invite you to check out her website for some fabulous free patterns:  http://www.bevscountrycottage.com.  Please tell her I sent you!

Adult Chunky Slippers, pattern by Crochet by Jennifer.
Photo copyright Angelina Gentile.

You can find my free pattern for Adult Chunky Slippers at the following links: