Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Holiday Knitting

I suspect that at this time of year, I am not alone in frantically trying to whip out some Holiday gift knitting. Monday morning, long before the crack of dawn, I dropped my husband off at the airport so that he could fly to Sacramento for a week for training on his new job. When I got home, as soon as it got light out (I hate turning on lights in the morning - if it is too dark out to see, then by God, maybe I should still be in bed asleep!) I cast on for a pair of socks as one of his Christmas gifts. Mind you, my husband doesn't celebrate Christmas, but I do, and for me, that is enough to qualify a loved one for a gift.

It is my fond hope to get these socks finished before he comes home so that he won't even have a clue what I have been up to. I'll have to really work at it, but I should be okay.... Hopefully I'll finish the first sock tonight.

The yarn is Wildfoote Luxury Sock Yarn in Master Grey, and the pattern, called 'Diagonal Cross-Rib Socks', and is designed by Ann Budd. The pattern can be found in 'Favorite Socks, 25 Timeless Designs from Interweave'. I have found the stitch pattern very easy to work and just as easy to remember, they are going fast!

This means, however, that I have put the socks for my middle sister on hold in the meantime. The 'Snicket Socks' pattern is on the website Magknits, at and were designed by Sabine Riefler. I'm using Regia 4-fadig Tweed in color #52. I have fallen in love with this yarn, it is delightfully soft to knit with, and let me just admit right here, I am a fool for tweed yarns. I found this pattern a little harder to 'get' at the beginning, but once I caught on to what was happening, it has been a piece of cake. Word to the wise, when she tells you that you can opt to work the short-row heel she describes, or work a favorite short-row heel of your own preference, go for hers! I tried two different favorite short-row heels that I have had GREAT success with in the past - three times each! Then figured, Oh, what the heck! and tried her method, and it worked like a charm. I'm now on the second sock, and whipping right through it.

Over the summer I made a lace shawl for my Mom, using Merino Oro laceweight and the pattern 'Scheherezade' by Melanie Gibbons of Pink Lemon Twist. I think she is going to be nicely surprised. Now I have to be sure she doesn't try to wash it in a machine!

Finally, well, I did knit something for my oldest sister, too. And after much thought, I have decided to go ahead and include a picture of it here. You have to understand that my sister reads all of my blogs faithfully, and last year I mistakenly included a whole blog entry about making her gift. Totally blew it! She then had the nerve to leave a comment on my blog that she liked her gift - a whole month before Christmas. This year when I emailed the fam and mentioned that I had finished her gift and was ready to mail it out, she replied that she would probably open it before Christmas. But what the heck, here is a picture of it for you all... Sis, don't peek!

Gotcha, Sis!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Patterns and Copyright Laws

With the holiday season approaching, this is the time of year that we see craft shows popping up all over the place. Some are set up so that a portion of the proceeds go to charity, others may be just a group of people who want to get together and sell their handworks. This is a good time, then, to review copyright law as it pertains to patterns and the sale of items made from those patterns.

In either of the above instances, if the pattern you are using to make your items is not your own completely original design, then you need to be aware of copyright laws as they pertain to patterns before you make an item to sell.

If you go into Kiwi and wander into the books and needles room, you will see a sign on the wall that tells you that we will not copy patterns for anyone. To do so is a violation of copyright law. You may purchase a pattern and make a working copy of it for your own use. I often do this so that I don't have to carry a whole book with me everywhere I take my knitting (which is everywhere), and can make notations directly on the pattern where needed. You may take a book out of the library and make a copy of a pattern that you are interested in making. What you may not do is make a copy of the original pattern, and give or sell the copy to someone else. To do so avoids paying the designer for their work. It is the same as pirating movies or music, and is the wrong thing to do.

It is also illegal to take someone's pattern, tweak it a bit, and sell the idea as your own, either as a pattern or as a finished item.

This is taken from the U.S. Copyright Office's website (
"How much do I have to change in order to claim copyright in someone else's
Only the owner of copyright in a work has the right to prepare, or to
authorize someone else to create, a new version of that work. Accordingly,
you cannot claim copyright to another's work, no matter how much you change it, unless you have the owner's consent. See Circular 14, Copyright
Registration for Derivative Works."

Likewise, if you have someone else's original pattern, you may not make an item from that pattern for resale without direct permission of the designer to do so. The pattern is considered the designer's intellectual property, and for anyone else to attempt to profit from a designer's intellectual property without permission of the originator is a violation of copyright law.

As a designer, let me give you a small idea of what goes into designing a pattern. First, I start with an idea or concept. Next I will make a rough sketch or chart of the pattern idea. I look for (and spend money on buying) quality yarns that will do what I want them to do for this design. I work up several swatches to decide needle size, stitch patterns, fabric drape and feel. This can take several days. Now I sit down and calculate my pattern, the number of sts to cast on, etc, and write a prototype pattern. Finally, after as much as a week of preparation, I can begin to knit. As I knit - and this can be as much as 90 hours or more of knitting for a sweater pattern, or even 20-30 hours of knitting for a felted bag - I am making notations as to pattern changes, increases and decreases, etc. Next I block and finish the item, and take the time to make several good photographs of the finished item. Now, 4-5 hours are spent at the computer turning my notes into a readable pattern that a stranger can understand. Ink, paper and protective sleeves are bought in order to print up physical copies of the pattern. And the knitting consumer comes along and purchases the fruits of all that labor and time and money spent, for the grand price of $5.00 for most of my patterns. If I am selling my pattern through another party, I am actually getting half the cover price to put in my pocket, one-third of which I pay in taxes. While the process is enjoyable and even compelling, the remuneration doesn't even begin to compensate for the work and creativity that goes into it.

If, therefore, someone were to take my pattern and give a free copy to a friend, they are literally taking food off of my table. If they make an item to sell for profit without my permission, they are keeping a roof from over my head, making it difficult for me to meet expenses of daily life such as car expenses, utility bills, medications, health insurance, dental care, etc. If you went to work tomorrow and worked all day giving your best, wouldn't you be upset it someone else got your paycheck?

Some designers pursue copyright violations ruthlessly. There has been an instance of one designer who sued - and won - against someone who made a sweater from one of her designs, and then later sold the sweater at a yard sale because it didn't fit her.

I am not unique in that all of my patterns have a copyright symbol on each pattern page. With or without that symbol, my design is copyrighted by law. Because of a conversation I overheard about a year ago I began adding a line to my patterns in that same area that states that one may not reproduce the pattern, or make items from the pattern for sale. This is a clarification for purchasers only - even without this notation on a pattern, copyrights automatically prevail.

So you can see that the issues that come about from copyright violation are two-fold: the morally and ethically wrong act of stealing someone's livelihood, and covering your own bottom against possible legal issues that may arise from violating copyright. If you are interested in making items for sale - either for charity or for profit - you must contact the designer first in order to be granted permission to do so. Be aware that you may be asked to pay royalty fees if you are given permission. If you do not ask and are not granted permission to sell an item made from another person's pattern, and proceed to do so anyway, be aware that you are committing a crime, and may be pursued through legal channels. Be smart: Ask first.

Respect and show gratitude to the people who take the time and trouble to share their ideas with the world.

Some good references to copyright as it pertains to patterns-
Copyright FAQ for Knitters:
Links to good sites here:

Monday, November 5, 2007

Patchwork Knitting with Irene York

I just spent the greatest two days! On Friday and Saturday, Nov. 2nd & 3rd, Kiwi Knitting Co. presented a workshop lead by Irene York, a knitting designer and teacher whose specialty is Patchwork Modular Knitting. Irene has studied with the master of the technique, Horst Schultz, in Berlin, and hosted him for workshops here in the States. We here in Tucson are fortunate that after all their travels and roaming, Irene and her husband have settled just outside of Tucson, giving us this amazing opportunity to take one of her workshops without having to travel far.

Patchwork Modular Knitting is a process of knitting that creates small pieces that build upon one another to create your fabric, much in the same way that a patchwork quilt is made of small pieces of pieced fabrics. Part of what makes the techniques so much fun is that the possibilities are endless - the fabric can be built in almost any direction at any time. I came away from both days of the class with my mind reeling with all sorts of ideas and half-formed designs that I want to incorporate into my own design work and knitting projects.

Both days were well attended, with a full house on Friday for the 5 hour workshop on equilateral triangles and U-shapes. I've done several modular knitting projects before this, but knowing that there is always something more to learn, I was excited about working new shapes that I hadn't encountered before. The most common shape we see with modular knitting is the mitered square, but there are a world of shapes beyond that - rectangles, isoceles triangles, equilateral triangles, U-turn squares and rectangles, diamonds, circles and shells, to name those that come to mind right away.

The basic techniques were ones that I was already familiar with, and could (and did) apply them to the new shapes with great glee. But for those in the class who were new to the whole process of modular knitting, the techniques and methods were very accessible, and before long everyone was knitting away, concentrating on their patterns.

One of the things I really enjoyed about Irene is her teaching style. In these days where it is considered a plus to be as energetic as inhumanly possible, it was such a joy to learn from someone who gave you the info you needed to proceed, and then just let you get on with it - with plenty of help if you needed it as you went along. Several people remarked on how nice it was to have such a quiet class so that we could concentrate on our patterns and our knitting without our minds having half an ear also paying attention to the conversation. On Saturday, one of the students also thanked Irene for not talking while we were working, and said what a treat that was in a class. I would definitely take another class from Irene, I found her presence as a teacher to be very calm and reassuring. That is a great thing in someone who teaches a subject such as knitting.

We were well fed on both days, with a lunch of sandwiches and a huge fresh salad brought in from Chopped on Friday, liberally augmented with snacks and desert, as well as coffee and teas from Rincon Market. On Saturday, for the 3 hour class, we grazed abundantly on veggies and baked goods, with the great treat of the day being one of Sarge's pumpkin cheesecakes.

Classes on both days concentrated on techniques, and we were also given patterns to make different bags using the new shapes we were learning. We each picked out a yarn kit when we came in containing three colors of coordinating yarn, with stickie notes and pens to help keep us on track. Friday's bag starts with a base circle made up of equilateral triangles.

From this base we began to build up sides to the bag, made from U-turn squares. Last night I finished my sister's Christmas present, so today I plan to sit down and work on the remaining sides and finishing to my bag. The units go pretty quickly, and like chapters in a book, are good places to pause and get up to toss the laundry in the dryer. I sometimes half joke that someday they will find me in my knitting chair, dessicated and starved, with my knitting still in my hands. It is nice to work on projects that have a natural stopping point!

On Saturday we worked with shell shapes, including half shells for each side and for the upper edges. It is interesting to work in modular shapes that don't have straight sides, and to see how they can be fit together. I know just how I am going to use this shape in a design - when I have a spare few minutes!

Those who love to combine travel and knitting should note that Irene and her husband also lead several knitting retreats in San Miguel Allende during the year that get rave reviews and repeat business from knitters who have taken them in the past. I'm not able to bring her website up at the moment, but the URL is

If you joined us this weekend, you know what a great time we all had for a fantastic price. If you were not able to join us this weekend, don't miss it the next time!