If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen a ‘story’ that I posted yesterday where I asked if some of you would link through to an Instagram feed that had posted a an image and link to a version of my Mystical Lanterns design that was in breach of my copyright because the linked web site showed a free crochet chart for the design. Thank you so much if you were one of the many people who followed the link and commented on the post. I reported the post to Instagram and it was deleted along with my story!
It is rare that I take the time to report Instagram posts, but sadly it is not rare for me to come across incidences where my designs are copied. I have reported many examples of infringement to YouTube, Pinterest and Facebook and we receive lots of messages from you guys telling us about things you have come across that appear to be a bit naughty in regard to copyright. It is wonderful to know that so many of you have ‘got my back’ and that the majority of crocheters want to protect designers like myself.
Traditionally yarn companies employed designers to come up with crochet patterns in order to sell yarn, but over the last couple of decades more and more independent designers like me, who don’t have the financial support of yarn companies, have come to the forefront of design. This is a brilliant situation that has so many positives for us all as crafters, but it also means that designers are left pretty much unprotected in cases of copyright breach.
I hope you will understand that I am not telling you any of this in order to make you feel sorry for me. I actually think that many of these copycat designs feed sales of my patterns, as crocheters tend to want to try and find the source of a design. My Persian Tiles pattern, for example, is the most copied, with Youtube videos in many languages cropping up all the time and images with charts shared within Facebook groups constantly, but it also continues to be our biggest selling pattern by far, so it has to be that a certain level of copying is actually beneficial to us.
The problem is that once an image or video of a design is shared with the accompanying word ‘free’ it instantly becomes ‘free’ on every single subsequent share. The more shares this ‘free’ design gets, the more likely it is that the design will be seen as public property and therefore will get shared in all its new incarnations as ‘free’, despite the fact that the original pattern was not!
On places like Pinterest and Youtube it is the ease and speed at which things get shared that is our biggest challenge when reporting a copyright infringement. On Pinterest we have to report every single instance where an offending image has been posted and not just the source. On YouTube we have to attempt to prove that my written pattern relates to what is being shown in the video, regardless of yarn shades or language, something that is pretty much impossible.
This morning, for example, I have been sent a link to a YouTube Channel that has over 900,000 subscribers. A video that shows the whole process for making the 3 motifs that make up my Persian Tiles design from start to finish has had nearly 14,000 views since it was posted yesterday. The video is in Spanish and at no point does it show my paper pattern, so when YouTube look at that video they are unlikely to see or understand the link between my written pattern and the video. Out of all the Persian Tiles videos on YouTube (of which there are probably hundreds if you are prepared to search) we have only ever managed to get one removed!
Yes! Just one!
I have reported this newest YouTube video and have left a message in the comments section on the offending channel. I have also sent a message via Instagram in the hope that the maker of the video will see the problem and be kind enough to remove it. In the majority of cases this is the common process we go through when attempting to get things removed – in a nutshell we have to appeal to other people’s sense of decency in the hope that they will amend their error.
In the majority of cases, when we have contacted people, they are completely unaware that they have done anything to infringe a copyright statement. Most people are apologetic and are quick to rectify their mistake. Take the yarn company Mary Maxim for example:
A few years ago, I was alerted to a design that was very similar to Mystical Lanterns. The only real difference was that the design had used a variegated yarn and had been renamed as ‘Tear Drop Blanket’. When I approached the company in regard to this they were mortified and without hesitation they offered to pay me a % for every single yarn kit they had sold using that design. This initial problem actually ended up creating a great relationship between myself and the company and I am very proud of my association with them on subsequent projects.
What really gets to me though, is experiences like the one I had on Instagram last night where no apology and no effort to rectify the mistake was made. It is like when Dolce & Gabbana used my Frida’s Flowers patterns to create a crochet skirt that featured in their Spring Summer collection in 2019 and like the lady who insisted that Mystical Lanterns was in fact designed by her mother in the 1970s!
Every example of copyright infringement gives me a little jolt of panic. Crochet designing is my livelihood, not just my hobby, and all of my designs are like my babies. They are incredibly personal to me and they represent a lot of work. Whilst I have to be assertive in protecting my designs, it is really important that I do not get consumed by this. I have to be careful not to invest too much time, effort, with all the accompanying stress, in trying to put things right, especially as there is often no positive outcome.
I once saw a comment on social media that said (in relation to the D&G copyright infringement):
‘I don’t know why everyone is getting so upset about it. It is only crochet after all!’
At the time I was really cross about this statement, but actually, when I find myself getting upset or militant about yet another copycat design or unauthorised share of an image or chart, I remind myself of it and try to take a step back from my personal involvement in what has happened. It is kind of a self-preservation thing (think Love Actually)! So if you spot copycat designs, videos or images you can help me out by sending us a link via email or via our social media channels. If you feel brave enough, it is really helpful to us if you leave a message on the site where you have found the problem – as a general rule the more comments you all make, the more likely it is that people will remove stuff.
Although it cannot be said to be true of everyone (that means you Dolce and Gabbana) I like to believe that on the whole people are honest and that many of them are so totally consumed by their need to spread the joy of the craft of crochet, that they don’t always do the best research before diving in! In all instances we need to try to be kind and keep in mind that it is only crochet after all!
Have good day!
2021 is Janie Crow’s 10th Birthday, but we are still trying to work out exactly what we can do to celebrate it. We had hoped to be running some special workshops and events, but for obvious reasons we are unable to set dates for these at the moment. Our lease runs out on our studio space in September and our Landlord has decided to develop the building into apartments, so it is even more difficult for us to plan anything for the Autumn. Whilst I am sad at the prospect of leaving the studio, I am a firm believer in fate and feel that as one door closes another will open, but it does leave us rather up in the air as far as birthday party planning goes!
Last July, in between lockdowns, we spent a night at our local big hotel, West Lodge Park, so we could work out whether it would make a good venue for a special event. It is a lovely old country house, set in beautiful grounds with it’s own Arboretum and we feel that it would indeed make a great location for an event. The only problem is making the decision to commit to a booking given all the uncertainty over the forth coming months. For now we have decided not to make any plans and just see where things take us, but I am really hoping that we will all get to collide for a big show and tell style party that involves Prosecco and posh nibbles before the end of the year – let’s all keep our fingers very firmly crossed!
It was hand knit designer Debbie Abrahams who encouraged me to launch my first CAL project in 2011. Back then there were very few crochet along style projects around and Debbie was insistent that I get myself out there and create a version of her legendary ‘Mystery Blanket Club’ only using the craft of crochet instead of knitting. A decade on and I have Debbie to thank for all that my business has brought me and I am eternally grateful that she has never learnt to crochet as if she had then I may not have created a CAL club in the first place!
For four years I ran my ‘Crochet Club’ (imaginative name huh!) which involved me designing a semi mystery project, the patterns for which were split into parts and released monthly. Club members were given teaser images on which to make a decision as to whether or not to join the club and we sent out yarn packs prior to the start of the patterns being released. Members then completed the project over the course of 6 months, hopefully ending up with a finished blanket by July the same year. Membership for all the clubs was capped at around 500 and the patterns for the projects were archived afterwards.
I really enjoyed designing my first three crochet club projects. The first one was inspired by Art Deco Wurlitzer Duke Box design, my second by traditional Victorian crochet lace designs and my third one was inspired by Persian Architecture and Moroccan tiles. By the time I was designing and releasing my fourth club I felt like a musician who was struggling to write, record and release an album in record time. The workload had become huge and stressful and, as I am definitely at my least creative when the pressure is on, by the time I had four Crochet Club projects under my belt I knew it was time to start something new.
The overriding thing that I didn’t like about running the Crochet Club (besides the bonkers workload) was that it was exclusive to those who had enough money to pay for it in the first place. The only way I could work out how to make a living from running the club was to sell accompanying high end yarn packs, but as I was also on a mission to propel the craft of crochet to a higher level of skill and a larger audience I really wanted to find a way of creating a project with a much wider appeal.
In late 2014 I got chatting with Annabelle Hill, brand manager at Stylecraft Yarns, about creating a CAL project that would be free for everyone. Working in this way, where yarn packs could be sold by all retailers or crocheters could use yarns from their stash and access free patterns, was a massive gamble for me, but, whilst the fall in financial gain by working in this way was particularly scary at the time, I have never regretted my decision to put my Crochet Club to rest.
The four Crochet Club projects, which were released as CALs between 2011 and 2014, have been archived and the patterns are not available - however nicely you ask! However, if you fancy working on a project inspired by one of the CAL designs you can find the patterns for the Imogen blanket, which was inspired by my 2012 Victorian crochet themed club project, by following this link and my Persian Tiles blanket, which was inspired by the 2013 project, here.
If you were a member of my first Crochet Club in 2011 I would love it if you would get in touch, especially if you would be willing to send me some pics of your project. If you were a member of all four of my Crochet Clubs then I definitely want to hear from you.
I wonder if there are any of you who have done all ten Janie Crow CALs over the last decade? In case you are wondering how many of my CAL projects you might have completed, here is the list:
2011 - Art Deco Inspired Crochet Club
2012 - Victorian Lace Inspired Crochet Club
2013 - Moroccan Inspired Crochet Club
2014 - My 1970s Childhood Inspired Crochet Club
2015 - Lily Pond Blanket CAL
2016 - Frida’s Flowers CAL
2017 - Sunshine & Showers CAL
2017/18 - Bohemian Blooms CAL
2019 - Climbing Rose Wrap CAL
2020 - Fruit Garden CAL
I could not have predicted where my design work would take me when I set out on my first CAL adventure a decade ago. I know that I have been incredibly lucky to have had such amazing support from yarn companies and the crochet community. I simply cannot wait to get back out into the real world to touch base with you all again and hope that in 2021 you will all come along on another CAL journey with me and I look forward to telling you more about that soon.
Thank you for being fabulous!
A few years ago, I had a bit of a blip and found myself struggling to find a purpose in life. I am not sure exactly how I got to the low point in the first place or over what period of time it manifested itself, but by the time Christmas 2017 rolled around I was at a point where I knew I needed some help, although I had no idea what sort of support I should seek. In the end I sorted out some online life coaching classes and ordered some self-help books, which I read over the course of a few weeks, each day beginning to feel more and more positive.
By the time I was setting off to teach on the Knit For Peace trip to Mysore in January 2018 I was already feeling like I was beginning to rid myself of the negativity that had started to overshadow me, but it was the trip to India that consolidated my belief in the detrimental effect that negativity could have on my life and made me promise myself not to be taken so far down that route again.
The reason I am telling you this is because over the last month or so I have found myself slowly slipping down the dangerous slope of negativity. The lack of difference between lockdown days and the fact that we have no real plans to look forward to over the next few months means that I have found it really easy to focus on all that is wrong in the world rather than all that is right and I know that spending much more time on my own than I usually would has definitely led me to do a lot of over thinking.
I have a friend who lives with her mind constantly in the past. She focuses on all the things that she feels have gone wrong in her life and re-lives them in her head over and over again. It is really easy to do this kind of constant dredging up especially when we are spending so much time alone. I have definitely been falling into the trap of having those ‘why me’ and ‘its not fair’ kind of thoughts, whilst also being guilty of imagining future negative scenarios so that in the end neither the past, nor the future are looking in the slightest bit positive.
As knitters and crocheters we enjoy solitary pass times that are independent by nature so it is important that we are extra careful that we recognise when we are feeling isolated. We are living in a situation where we have so much more time to think and procrastinate, whilst also being constantly bombarded with news stories and social media feeds, many of which are negative. So, this week I have decided that enough is enough and have made a promise to myself that I will get back on a positive track. I have given myself a good talking to and have spent some time reminding myself about what it was about that trip to India and the content of those online classes and self help books that helped me sort my life out a few years ago, and which I am hoping will do so again….
There is a large lake in the University grounds near the Green Hotel in Mysore. It is a popular destination for people and wildlife alike and it is a great place for a daily stroll, so when we are lucky enough to be away with the Knit For Peace groups, we try our best to get there as often as we can. While walking one morning in January 2018, Andy and I were approached by some young adults who invited us to attend a coaching class that had been organised for the university students. The group were adamant that we should go to the meeting and so later on that day a 5 of us did!
As we were quite clearly not Indian University students we were quite a novelty in the group activities that were organised for that afternoon, but we had a fabulous time working through some positive behaviour exercises with all the students. They were so welcoming, vibrant and happy that there was no way we could have walked away from the event feeling anything less that euphoric having danced, played games and laughed with them, all the time being taught about the perils of negative thoughts and behaviour and the importance of positivity. After the workshop one of the students took us to the nearby Hindu temple, which was so peaceful and beautiful bathed in the pink sunset. It was an incredibly special afternoon, one which I will always remember as being a huge turning point for me in regards to recognising the detrimental effects of negativity.
In the book ‘How to get off your backside and live your life’ by Joyce H Campbell the author talks about how we must all steer our own ships and stop playing the blame game, ultimately taking total responsibility for our own lives. This was one of the things that the university students in India focussed on too and for me, this idea of being totally in control of our own destiny, is something that I need to remind myself about..
Last week I came across this great video by Will Smith that kind of encapsulates this is a nut shell.
Another one of the books I refer to over and over again is Stephen R Covey’s awesome ‘The 7 habits of highly effective people’, which talks about the positive effects of sharing and being open to others – being Proactive rather than Reactive. I have mentioned this book before and I still check in from time to time to see the video that shows Covey’s 7 habits in a simple, easy to understand way.
I think I am on the up and have managed to get myself back in a positive frame of mind, but if you are feeling down and feel in need of help don’t be afraid of looking for it. The charity Mind have been doing some really important work through lockdown and are there to help anyone who feels overwhelmed. It is normal to feel down from time to time and there is no shame in admitting, like I have, that your mental health is not always in tip top condition, but it is imperative that we recognise it and deal with it.
If you could do with a bit of a pick-me-up (and are not yet totally fed up with Zoom meetings) then you could book some online courses or events. I attended some great workshops as part of Vogue Knitting Live over the weekend and would thoroughly recommend them. I also arranged to chat to some friends for a bit and took myself off on a long walk. It is all stuff we know, but sometimes it is good to have a reminder that it is really important to get plenty of sleep, exercise and fresh air and to keep safe and be kind to ourselves as well as others...
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