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