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Questions, questions…

Posted by mousewrites on September 9, 2004

I have a few knitting questions for the blog world in general:

First I present to you the case of Donna:

I want this sweater. It was seemingly designed just for me. I fit the measurements perfectly, which I cannot say for 99% of knitwear patterns. I usually fall just beyond the bust measurement; XL measurements hit around 44-46 inches, and I’m squarely in the 48 inch range.

So when I found Donna, I was overjoyed! A sweater that would fit me, and that I’d love to make. And wear, for christsake! (Note to little inner voice: Yes, I know I could buy a sweater like that. Shut up.)

But I have a problem. Donna, wonderful Donna, calls for 12 skeins of Lana Grossa “Point”, which, at 121 yards a skein, works out to 1452 yards. Point is 96% cotton, 4% elastic, and knits to 5.5 sts/inch on #7. The cheapest I’ve seen Point for is $7.95, which would bring the total to a whopping $95.40 for the sweater.

Sweet Baby Cthulhu! I’ve never in my life owned a sweater worth that much. Not only am I unable to pay for that, I’d be afraid to wear it!

So I looked around for a substitute. Here’s what I found: Cascade Fixation.

Fixation knits up at 5 sts/inch on a #7 needle, which is slightly smaller. I might be able to fudge that with my typically loose gauge, though. What worries me more is this: Fixation is 98.3% cotton, 1.7% elastic, giving it 3.7% less elastic than the Point. But it’s only $4.50 for 100 yards, bringing the total to $67.50 for the sweater, which is still a lot, but a savings of $27.90.

What do I do? I can’t really afford either option. I could try to knit it out of something else, but if I’m going to go through the process of sweater knitting (my first one) I should be pretty sure that the end result won’t horrify me off knitting forever.

Opinions? Suggestions? Large cash donations? Kidding, kidding…

Second question: I present the case of Klaralund.

This is a lovely sweater as well, by Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton, in the Collection Book 2. From what I gathered from all the Klaralund-alongers, it’s four rectangles; front, back, and each sleeve, with the sleeve edges forming the neckline. Now, I don’t have a yarn question, or a errata question (though Wendy has the errata up on her site.)

I have an ethical question.

Is it totally and unequivocal wrong to look at a technique, (or, in this case, read about a design) and say, “hey, that’s pretty cool. I bet I could make something like that,”?

I’ll never buy Collection Book 2 ( there’s only 2 – 3 patterns in it I’d maybe do), so it’s not as if I’m going to copy the pattern verbatim and do Hamilton out of any money. My design wouldn’t BE Klaralund. I wouldn’t call it that. And I wouldn’t attempt to make/sell a pattern, or sell the sweater for money. But this isn’t about the money. It’s only 17$. Even I can afford that. My question goes beyond Klaralund.

Where is the line between inspiration and intellectual property theft? Is it theft to put together a sweater with four rectangles after reading about a sweater made of four rectangles? Is it theft to look at a sweater and make one similar? Not to sound too pandering, but if I did this, would the whole of Blogland look at me and dub me as a “low down dirty copyright infringer”?

Comments are more then welcome; I’m begging you for your opinion.

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8 Responses to “Questions, questions…”

  1. Anonymous said

    I liked Donna too and know exactly what you mean about the cost of the yarn. The yarn has a very good review on Wiseneedle which makes the whole thing even more difficult. I’ll be interested to see what others have to say.
    As for the Klaralund pattern design idea, I’d call it an UNvention as Elizabeth Zimmermann would say. Someone somewhere must have done a sweater like this in knitting history. It sounds too simple and obvious to be an entirely new idea. I say go for it!
    Glad the wool wash worked for you. The fleece is very pretty. I look forward to seeing what you make from the yarn.
    Your Secret Pal

  2. jenifleur said

    Ok, the price for the yarn isn’t really much considering what you’d pay for a handknit in a boutique BUT if you can’t afford it, that sentiment doesn’t really help. Fixation is surprisingly stretchy though. I like it for socks, and am certain people have used to with great success for other garments, but I dunno if I’d attempt it for my first sweater. So what do I suggest? Um. I don’t know. I think a good wool or wool/acrylic blend would be a good drape for the shape (I like this sweater, too). I’ll think on it and see if I come up with any suggestions.

  3. raibeart said

    I did some reasearch for you, I know don’t I always…
    from http://www.intellectual-property.gov.uk:

    The four main types of IP are:

    patents for inventions – new and improved products and processes that are capable of industrial application

    trade marks for brand identity – of goods and services allowing distinctions to be made between different traders

    designs for product appearance – of the whole or a part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture or materials of the product itself or its ornamentation;

    copyright for material – literary and artistic material, music, films, sound recordings and broadcasts, including software and multimedia

    Now Design is further defined as:

    A design refers to the appearance of the whole or a part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture or materials of the product or its ornamentation.

    In the United Kingdom designs are protected by three legal rights;

    registered designs

    unregistered design right

    and artistic copyright
    Design registration gives the owner a monopoly on their product design, i.e. the right for a limited period to stop others from making, using or selling a product to which the design has been applied, or in which it has been incorporated, without their permission and is additional to any design right or copyright protection that may exist automatically in the design.

    Further More:

    A work can only be original if it is the result of independent creative effort. It will not be original if it has been copied from something that already exists. If it is similar to something that already exists but there has been no copying from the existing work either directly or indirectly, then it may be original.

    The term “original” also involves a test of substantiality – literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works will not be original if there has not been sufficient skill and labour expended in their creation. But, sometimes significant investment of resources without significant intellectual input can still count as sufficient skill and labour.

    Ultimately, only the courts can decide whether something is original, but there is much case law indicating, for example, that names and titles do not have sufficient substantiality to be original and that, where an existing work is widely known, it will be difficult to convince a court that there has been no copying if your work is very similar or identical.

    Sound recordings, films and published editions do not have to be original but they will not be new copyright works if they have been copied from existing sound recordings, films and published editions.

    Broadcasts do not have to be original, but there will be no copyright, if, or to the extent that, they infringe copyright in another broadcast.

    So, there you go…

  4. Anonymous said

    Throughout the history of art and craft, huge numbers of artists have borrowed sources, adapted, embroidered upon, or reacted to earlier artworks. Think of Shakespeare….
    If you are inspired by a general technique (e.g., several rectangles sewn together), and you develop your own pattern based on that concept, you are not stealing.

  5. Adrian said

    As far as I know, you can get your inspiration from anywhere you darn well please, and even copy the way something looks to your heart’s content, as long as it’s for personal use only. Seeing a sweater somewhere and knitting a similar one for yourself is in no way a violation of anyone’s rights. I can’t imagine anyone giving it a second thought.

    As for the first sweater, I would think any stretchy yarn would do. You’d want it to hug you in that same way, so a 100% cotton wouldn’t be good, but a wool yarn would be lovely.

  6. IndigoMuse said

    I’m not sure how to answer your question on Klaralund. I’ve made several knit items by eyeballing them (and not buying a pattern) and I’ve certainly seen my share of “similar” patterns in the knitting world. I have my own issues with Klaralund – the girl wearing the sweater is either 12 or has the smallest chest that I’ve ever seen. Either way, I wonder how it would fit a more ample bussomed woman like myself?

  7. Fiber kitten said

    Do you remember the boa at the yarn shop that I touched for a few minutes and then went home and made my own. I felt guilty for about 3 seconds and then got over it. I could figure it out, and I’m poor, I didn’t physically steal the pattern. I just made my own version, with no instructions. I’m an upright citizen, right…ok, don’t answer that.

  8. Anonymous said

    Dearest Mouse, I think your dilemma reveals that you are a _thinking_ human being, one who is _paying attention_. To that end, you are not stealing the sweater pattern, nor the soul of the “original” knitter, if you wildly start knitting up a storm and the aftermath looks like the sweater in the picture. You’re clearly wrestling with an age-old problem of human invention and the progress we call “civilization.” (My mother always told me that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery when my little brother copied my drawings. And Bruce Mau [www.brucemau.com] suggests all artists copy another’s work, as he says you won’t be able to replicate it exactly and the difference will be terrifically interesting.) Now, from a Platonic point of view, there’s really only _one sweater_, and _all_ sweaters are just a riff on that idea. So there’s no way Plato would be bummed if you gave him the sweater you’re going to make from rectangles of knitted yarn. A couple of sharing-the-love/idea questions: If the first person in the world who invented knitting patented it, would human beings have lasted past a few realllllllly cold winters? Isn’t the rectangle someone’s definition of a kind of square? What if that idea had been patented? We wouldn’t have houses or anything dependent on the idea of rectangle, let alone sweaters assembled from knitted rectangles. So: Knit on! Yours sincerely, Landon (currently knitting a paper sweater and some big silly hats)

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