What Breaks My Heart as a Crochet Designer

by - June 04, 2021

Hi friends,

This is going to be a very different post from what I usually write on my blog.  It's something that hurts me deeply and it involves the stealing and misuse of my work.

Let me start off by saying this.

I love the crochet community. I really, really do. There's a lot of great support out there, from my readers and fellow makers, and my lovely Wonder Wool-men group. 

Unfortunately, there are some things that really hurt designers, and one of these incidents happened to me today.  

This isn't the first time it has happened, and it might not be the last.  I'm rarely the complain-y type as I don't often share this sort of drama with others, even friends, when such incidents happen.  I try to handle most situations between myself and the other person.  However, I want to speak about it on my blog so that my readers are aware.  

If you have used any of my patterns or tutorials in the past, or enjoy browsing my work or blog, I would love it if you can take a moment to read this.

Here is what happened today:

  • My patterns were yet again stolen.
  • My images and photo references of both my free and premium/paid patterns were shared on social media with someone else's watermark stamped over them.
  • My pattern instructions (both in part and in full) were shared with someone else's watermark stamped over them.  
  • My instructions were translated and distributed.
  • All of this happened without my permission or knowing, with no mention of or credit to me as the pattern designer. 
One of my best crochet friends, Juli, also had this exact situation happen, and it isn't new to the both of us.  You can read her post about her crochet pattern being stolen. 

Here are other things that have happened (all without my permission or knowledge):

  • My pattern PDFs were being sold by someone else on Etsy.
  • My patterns were distributed in groups.
  • My patterns and photos were posted in part or full on blogs.
  • My design and photos were shared as someone else's shop listing, with the watermark removed and replaced with their own.  There was no mention or credit to me as the pattern designer.  
  • My design and photos are being made as wholesale items on popular online stores, like AliExpress.

Now, one might wonder.  Why does it matter?  Why is all of this a big deal?

Let me tell you why this makes my heart hurt.

Pattern designing requires a tremendous amount of time, effort, and energy.  There is a lot of invisible work that goes behind each pattern that I post on my blog.  That includes coming up with the design, bringing the design to life through crochet (which often requires a lot of frogging and re-working), writing down the pattern instructions in a more universal way that is comprehensible to not just me but for other readers, taking photos and editing them, writing up a blog post, adding this information to other platforms like Ravelry and AllFreeCrochet.com, and doing the legwork behind social media to share my designs.  

I wish to share many of my patterns on my blog for free.  Since I know that many people can't afford to pay for patterns, I try to put up free designs so that they are able to access it.  I earn close to nothing except for the small amount of ad revenue from visitors to my blog, and that money goes towards supplies and materials so that I can continue keeping this up.  As my friend Laura of TheCozyChipmunk has said, "Makers do not make much money from their art. Please do not steal from the little income they do get through pattern sales, ad revenue on their websites, etc." 

Like many other crochet designers who choose to offer their patterns for free, I do this because it really warms my heart when I get sweet messages from others, sharing their creations from my patterns and letting me know how much they enjoyed making it.

Thus, it truly pains me when I find that my hard work is stolen or misused. 

It discourages me as a crochet designer who offers free patterns for the world.  Times like these, I regret it and feel that I should have my designs offered as premium/paid patterns instead, or simply give up on pattern designing.

Please know that I truly pour my heart into my craft, and this is not okay.

Stealing ANY designer's work or misusing it without their permission is not okay.

Aside from the emotional distress that pattern thieves inflict on crochet designers, there's also a legal issue.  It is illegal to claim someone's intellectual property as your own.  It is illegal to profit off of that.  It is already an immoral action, so legal or not, keep that in mind too.

If you're wondering what is and isn't okay to do, I've written some basic rules of thumb below.  When in doubt, contact the designer directly and ask.

I also encourage you to check out TheCozyChipmunk's Thoughts on Intellectual Property Theft blog post, which has great tips on how we can back each other up and what we can do about it.

Basics of What to Do and What Not to Do:

What is OK: 

  • Sharing my work by reposting my image (with my watermark intact) AND with credit to me as the designer.  To credit me, tag me on social media (@SweetSofties) and link to my blog.
  • Sharing your creations made from or inspired by my designs with credit to me as the original designer. 
  • Sharing a link to my free pattern on social media, or in a private conversation with someone else.  

What is NOT okay:

  • Posting my pattern instructions (in part or full) on social media, on a blog, or with someone else.  (You should share a link to my pattern instead.)
  • Translating my pattern into a different language and sharing it with someone else.
  • Making a video tutorial of my pattern.
  • Using my pattern when teaching a crochet class.
  • Removing my watermark or putting your own watermark on my images. 

Again, when in doubt, contact the designer directly and ask for permission.

Here's how to legally and correctly share a pattern:

Remember, it is perfectly fine to share my patterns by LINKING to them with a direct link to the pattern page on my blog.  Follow the guidelines below.
  1. Share the image without removing the designer's watermarks.
  2. Credit the designer by mentioning their name/business name and add a link to their website. 
For example, this is what appropriate sharing might look like:

"Check out this free crochet pattern! It's a Japanese doll wearing a kimono. The designer is Sweet Softies (https://www.sweetsofties.com/) and here's the link to the free pattern: https://www.sweetsofties.com/2021/03/sakura-kimono-doll.html"

If you are sharing appropriately (with the designer's name, website link, and direct link to the pattern page), you do not need permission from me to post.

I hope that this clarifies things. 

How to Support Indie Designers:

And, if you do enjoy my patterns and you're wondering how to support me (and other indie designers), here are some ways to do so.  All small crochet business owners would greatly appreciate this:
  • Browse the free patterns on our websites.  We make a bit of ad revenue from viewers on our blogs.
  • Purchase the PDF patterns that we have available.  Most of the time, I have PDF versions of my free patterns available in either my Ravelry or Etsy shops.  I spend a lot of time and effort making my PDF patterns easy-to-read, beautifully formatted, and filled with helpful photo references to guide you through the crocheting process.  These PDF patterns are also ad-free, so if you don't like viewing the crochet instructions from my blog with ads, you can consider supporting my small business by purchasing my PDF patterns.
  • Watch our YouTube videos.  Again, like browsing the written instructions on our blogs, we get a bit of ad revenue from views on YouTube.  It'd help a lot if you subscribe to my YouTube channel and click the little bell icon to get updates whenever I post a new video tutorial!
  • Clicking our affiliate links to make purchases.  For example, if you shop on Amazon with my link, I will be able to gain a small referral fee at no cost to you!  Simply use my Amazon affiliate link before a purchase, and it'll help me out.
  • You can also make a direct donation to the designers you wish to support.  This helps greatly in offsetting material fees and costs to keep up a blog.  It allows me to keep creating and sharing designs with my readers.  If you'd like to donate to Sweet Softies, you can send an amount to my Venmo (preferred) or PayPal.  (I prefer Venmo because PayPal deducts a transaction fee in the process.)

Thank you for reading, and for helping small-time business owners like me.  It is a dream for me to share my patterns and tutorials with others, and I hope to continue doing so for a long time coming!  Any bit of support helps!

Thank you all for letting me get this off my chest.  I love my crochet community dearly, and I can't tell you how much joy it brings me to see your support and love for my designs, as well as the beautiful creations you've made from my patterns.  Thank you for that!  I just want to let you know some of the difficulties that I deal with as a pattern designer, especially when sharing my patterns for free.  

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me!  Thank you again, my sweet friends, and for respecting my work by sharing about it correctly.

I wish you all well, and I truly do want to keep coming up with new free designs to share with you all.  

Warm wishes,

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  1. I can't believe somebody would do such a thing!! Its really not okay. But I hope you know that there are many people like me who love and appreciate your patterns and you.You are so creative and its your patterns that got me into amigurumi. I hope you continue doing what you love. XOXOXO

    1. You're so kind, Angelina -- thank you for reading my thoughts and for being so caring. I am very grateful to have such a supportive friend in you! It's also humbling and so heartfelt to know that my patterns got you into amigurumi!! Thank you for making my day. I definitely want to keep creating and sharing!

  2. Next time try making a bigger and a bit able to be seen watermark. And the part where you talked about Ali express, it is one of the stores used in my place. And I am really sorry

    1. That's a good idea, thank you for the tip! Thank you for the sympathy, I do really appreciate you taking the time to read my thoughts!

  3. sorry this has happened to you, I know how much time and effort you have put into your patterns and it is so generous of you to share them freely. I hate that you are being taken advantage of.

    1. Thank you for your kind message, Fiona. I really appreciate you understanding my situation; your support means a lot to me!

  4. I'm so sorry to hear this has happened to you! I've been publishing patterns for a few years now, and I know the time and effort it takes! (Like when you send the pattern to testers, thinking you've caught every mistake, only to have them come back with error after error that needs to be fixed!) Hang in there! You're not alone! Don't let the turkeys get you down!

    1. Aww, thank you for the kind message and support!! I really appreciate your empathy as a fellow pattern designer! It's not easy at all but we're in this together!

  5. I'm so sorry to hear this has happened to you! I've been publishing patterns for a few years now, and I know the time and effort it takes! (Like when you send the pattern to testers, thinking you've caught every mistake, only to have them come back with error after error that needs to be fixed!) Hang in there! You're not alone! Don't let the turkeys get you down!

  6. I'm so sorry to hear this has happened to you! I've been publishing patterns for a few years now, and I know the time and effort it takes! (Like when you send the pattern to testers, thinking you've caught every mistake, only to have them come back with error after error that needs to be fixed!) Hang in there! You're not alone! Don't let the turkeys get you down!

  7. I’m so sorry you are going through this, I appreciate your lovely patterns and works. I do hope everyone will follow the right protocol. It’s important to give credit to whom it’s due. I enjoy your lovely work.

    1. Hi Arline, you're so sweet and supportive, thank you! I really appreciate that you're crediting designers with such good conscience and I wish everyone would follow suit. I'm so happy that you enjoy my patterns too; thank you for the kind compliment!!

  8. I am really sorry this has happened to you, some people think of its on the internet it up for grabs regardless of what it is and if they can make money out of it even better. It doesn't matter how big a watermark is or how it's placed it can be removed quickly and easily and you don't even needed to know how to use editing software to do it. There are several sites who even offer this service for free.

    I found out that patterns I put up for sale could be purchased then uploaded to a particular site which I will not name where the person who shared it there could earn points to to buy more stolen patterns, magazines and even complete books, that had been uploaded to the site, I stopped sharing anything after that, even if you put it out free someone will take advantage.

    1. My goodness, that is terrible! I haven't heard of a site like that but it's very immoral to do so. I'm sorry to hear that your patterns were stolen too. This is a big issue in the art/crafts community. :(

    2. this is horrible!!! wish you could take legal action or at least these people should be lumped into the group i call IDENTITY theives and telemarketers.(can you publish who is doing it?) I truly appreciate your skills and creativity. Ive used seversal of the really easy items and my grandchildren are excited for more.
      so very new to even downloading free patterns.

  9. It's sad when people find a way to continue to steal. I encourage you to continue to post who they are, that way we can avoid purchasing your hard work from thieves.

  10. I'm so very sorry this has happened to you Almost all of my work is donated to needy families and I Depend On the free patterns online. Because I'm retired I can no longer afford to buy them! Here's to all of us being completely transparent and honest. Thank you for all you have done for the crocheting community. You are IMPORTANT to us all <3

  11. So so sorry that happened to you, I love looking at your crochets, and you are very talented.

  12. This is just absolutely awful! I do purchase many patterns and I do appreciate seeing a free version on a blog but mostly to see the pattern structure. Even though I have around 6k patterns I enjoy supporting Indie designers as I understand all the work that goes into them. Take heart.


  13. I am so sorry you are having to go through this. It is terrible that people feel they have to steal other's work instead of creating their own. Wish there was an easy solution to this. Hang in there. Love your designs and thank you!

  14. I am so this has happened to you. I have had friends who have a store had this happen to them. A lot of the suggestions already provided hopefully will help. Thank you for clearly stating what we as consumers can help you. I found you through Ravelry and so happen to have found you! I love the work that you put into your patterns/designs. Thank you and hang in there.

  15. My daughter and I feel very strongly about proper attribution! We often find ourselves in the awkward situation of having to report someone for violations of copyright. Please know that there are crocheters (and writers) who are constantly on the lookout for copyright violations. We care about our Indie designers.

  16. First I hear of people removing watermarks but then adding their own. One of my designer friends has someone steal her Youtube tutorials and publish the methods as their own.

    Those kind of people know well they're stealing, but their ego is more important to them, than your hard work put into creating the patterns. Seems all a designer can do is to let their customers know what is legit and what is not. True fans will continue to support the real designer, no matter where else your creations end up.

    The biggest issue is that many of the websites that steal designs cannot be made to desist - no legal ramifications in their country for copyright theft.

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