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What Breaks My Heart as a Crochet Designer

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,