Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hattitude and Plagiarism

Photo TROMBONE© Chris Johnson from

I've noticed that people are often accused of plagiarism in the knitting world. I wonder if it's more common than in the literary world?

Several years ago I was teaching a workshop class for a hat design that most of my advisers said was too complex to do as a pattern. I ran the class at my guild the DKC and at my LYS Village Yarns. I called it Hattitude. Recently one of the previous students approached me with a copy of Cathy Carron's new book of the same name. She came to me just as I was about to start teaching so we only spoke for a moment but I got the impression that she was upset on my behalf feeling that I had been ripped off in some way. I later googled Hattitude and got 107,000 hits.

I've read a number of posts on Ravelry where people feel that their original idea has been stolen and they are angry.

I don't feel that way at all. I look at everything! art, fashion, nature, craft, the Internet and every other possible source that might fuel inspiration. I know that my memory is faulty and that while I won't remember the source it all gets muddled up in my brain and pops back out in a different format. I think of it like music all the notes are the same but are placed in an unique order. Or writing a novel ...all of the letters and words already exist but have been rearranged to make something new.

I also feel that if it's a good idea someone else is also just as likely to see that good idea as I am.

So lets not assume plagiarism or suspect it has happened. Everyone out there working in the knitting community all sees the same stitch dictionaries, the same books and magazines. There are only so many ways to wrap knitted fabric around the human body so of course some standard silhouettes will be used over and over again. The Internet is also bringing us contact with Knitters all over the world and that's going to have an impact as well. Lets not assume that anyone is trying to steal our ideas and realize that they are on their own creative path that might just intersect with our own in some way.


  1. I totally agree with you Robin. There are only so many ways to do everything. It's like music where everyone is using the same notes. How can we keep coming up with different music? But new music keeps happening anyway.

    I was recently at a knitting retreat and the designer said she never buys magazines or looks at anyone else's work. I thought her reason would be so that she wouldn't be influenced by other designers but that was not so. She doesn't look at magazines, books, etc. in case seeing some garment made by someone else STOPS her from doing the same type of garment herself. Everyone brings their own knitting and life experience to everything they make. There's a chance that even if 2 designs look the same there may be slight differences due to a different perspective.

    I am considering restricting my blog reading since sometimes I see something I had an idea about and sigh, thinking someone else has done it. But have they done it MY way? There's the question.

  2. Hi there! You are, I'm afraid, misunderstanding "plagiarism." Give credit to the person you got your idea from and you can't be accused of plagiarism. It's not stealing. It's using other people's thoughts, words, and ideas without giving proper credit to your source. Plagiarism indeed happens all the time in the knitting world because writers do not credit where they're borrowing ideas from. That's because knit designers don't bother to take note of where their ideas are coming from. Strictly speaking, "Hattitude" is an act of plagiarism if the source of the title wasn't cited. It was in fact borrowed. Knitter's think it's optional to cite their sources. It isn't. In writing, give credit where credit is due and no plagiarism can ever be committed. Of course, money is an issue. Magazines have actually plagiarized my blog. Really! Not fair. If they gave me credit, they'd be advertising me and my blog.

    See why ethics is important? Make a buck off others' ideas or acknowledge the person who "inspired" you? Which is more ethical?