A Big Company And My Big Idea (Crackerjack)

I have closed comments on this thread because I don’t have the time or energy to respond to the negativity that this post has begun to generate (I’m leaving the comments there, though). It’s fairly predictable pushback, a cycle I’ve seen many times online before, and I don’t want to contribute to it. While I have been assured that my original post was not inflammatory or unfair, I am altering some of the language in it. I can’t prove that my concept was copied – is there such a thing as coincidence? sure! is there such a thing as parallel thought? sure! do I think that’s what happened with this concept? not really! But I also don’t know the individual designer and I don’t want to be unfair to her. My issue was with a big company more than an individual. 

To the question of why I didn’t try harder to reach out to the company or designer, and why I waited three months to write this post – my regular readers know that I’ve had a lot of trauma and grief in my life in these last few months. I don’t think I need to justify myself any further about that.

Last year, I was so excited to release my free conceptual knitting idea into the world. Crackerjack was initially created as a baseball-themed infinity scarf, a way of charting one team’s progress over a single season. It was inspired by other conceptual  knitting ideas, and I freely gave credit and linked to those. In my release of the customizable download, I encouraged people to interpret it however they would like – not only with baseball, but with hockey or football, or whatever sport they liked.

At the end of the 2014 baseball season, I finished my Detroit Tigers version:

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I was so happy with how it turned out. But more than that, I was so pleased with the response. I loved watching people interpret the concept for themselves, and I loved hearing from people about their own enthusiasm for baseball and for this project. High-profile knitters and designers tweeted their nice comments and sometimes their own works-in-progress. Someone even sent me this article from their local newspaper, about my design. And then, even Knit Picks posted a picture on Instagram of a Crackerjack-in-progress – what a thrill! I felt I’d come up with a genuinely unique idea, and that people liked it.

Then late this summer, 18 months after I published the concept, someone alerted me to the fact that a large yarn company was promoting a concept with a striking resemblance to what I thought was a unique and pretty specific idea.

I’ve seen this happen plenty of times before, where a large company takes an idea or an inspiration from an independent designer, profiting from their work on a much larger scale than the independent designer. We like to think the knitting community is kind and mutually supportive, but I have seen this happen many times and heard sad tales of it from others. In my case, I wasn’t making a profit from my idea – I was giving it away, encouraging people to interpret it however they would like (including using it for hockey or football). It was a concept, not a pure pattern, but with some pattern and calculation support. I did it because of my love of knitting, my love of baseball, and my love of the knitting community. However, as an independent designer, even my free designs can indirectly contribute to my livelihood, because sometimes, when a person knits one of my free designs, they then check out and purchase one of my paid patterns. Or they visit my blog, which in the past (but not currently) has had some advertising revenue linked to it.

But mostly, for me, the issue is not lost revenue but an issue of integrity. Given that the company and designer are also giving the design away for free (but presumably profiting from yarn sales, as the pattern is designed for one of their yarns), why couldn’t they give credit to the source of their inspiration, just as I gave credit to the sources of my inspiration? What would that have cost them?

edited to add: It’s entirely possible that I am wrong about all of this, and that, as suggested by some in the comments section, this is a matter of coincidence or “parallel thought.” It’s a pretty specific idea, and executed precisely like mine, and well after mine was published, so I’m not inclined to see it as a coincidence. But if it were a case of coincidence, it would have been very easy for the company or designer to say that to me when I contacted them in August.

I will say that, as a designer, I do a thorough search of Ravelry before I publish anything (and, in contrast to what a commenter says below, there was nothing I could find on Ravelry before I published Crackerjack that was a sport-themed conceptual knitting pattern – I do wonder if some of the commenters know what I’m talking about when I talk about conceptual knitting). When I search Ravelry to make sure what I’ve come up with doesn’t too closely resemble someone else’s design, I clarify for myself how my design is different, and from where my sources of inspiration came. If I were ever to be contacted by someone who thought one of my designs too closely resembled theirs, I would be very ready to make a response.

Crackerjack was an idea that was so close to my heart, my little brainchild, a genuinely fun and creative idea, and something I felt very proud of. I’m flattered that a company of some size and influence thought the idea was worthy of imitating. I’m less flattered at the lack of communication regarding the inspiration.

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Reporting for Duty Today :: Pitchers, Catchers, and Yarn

Today in Ann Arbor, we are under a severe weather alert because of the wind chill. When I woke up this morning, it was 6 degrees below zero, with a windchill of -15. Baby, that’s COLD. Of course you know I am not complaining, because:

  1. I am a knitter. Therefore, I am covered in wool.
  2. I am a knitter. Therefore, I am happy to be “forced” to stay inside and knit.
  3. Spring is officially in sight as of today, because today the Detroit Tigers pitchers and catchers report for spring training. HECK YEAH!

That means this yarn is also reporting for training:

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Hazel Knits Artisan Sock

 

And by training, I mean swatching. I will soon be swatching for my next Crackerjack conceptual knitting project.

My yarn this time is Hazel Knits Artisan Sock, in “Nekkid,” “Nickel,” “Collegiate,” and “Carnelian.” To create this set, I actually bought a Seattle Seahawks-themed kit (this was right after the Super Bowl) – it had all the colors I needed minus the orange, in the smaller quantities I think I’ll need for a pair of socks. Then I bought a full skein of the orange to complete my set. Now I have a sweet small skein of “Hawkeye” (lime green) leftover for some other fun use. It’s been awhile since I’ve knit with Hazel Knits, and I’m really looking forward to it. The yarn has a great feel, and the hand-painted semi-solids are just perfect.

This time around, I’m going to be making… SOCKS. For anyone who has been following my Instagram feed, this should come as no surprise, as I am apparently all about knitting socks lately. It’s funny, I’ve never really considered myself a sock-knitter (though, in truth, I’ve knit my share of socks), but some kind of switch has been flipped in my brain, and all of a sudden, all I want to make it socks. Also, every time I go to Comerica Park to watch the Tigers play, I wish for some Tigers socks, and the souvenir shops have every imaginable thing for sale – except socks. So I’ll just make my own, with stripes keyed to the Tigers wins and losses. I am really excited about this project!

I’ll be putting together a worksheet in advance of Opening Day, for anyone who would like to play along, with your team colors. Spring is coming, y’all!

 

Crackerjack :: all done but the weaving, the wearing, … and the winning

After getting three months behind in my Crackerjack, I managed to finish up this week, just two days after the baseball season ended. I could not be more pleased with how it has turned out!

2014 Detroit Tigers Crackerjack

2014 Detroit Tigers Crackerjack

What I do regret, however, is that I didn’t make myself weave in the ends as I went along. Oy! There are so many ends y’all! I wish I had gotten a picture to show you of the scarf guts. I started weaving them in last night, but I think I still have about a hundred to go. Guess I know what I’ll be doing during Game 1 of the ALDS tonight!

I’m super-excited that my team has made it to the postseason! I briefly considered continuing to knit my Crackerjack through the playoffs, but it is right now the perfect length, so I’m calling it done. After I finish weaving in the ends, I’ll unzip the provisional cast-on, join the ends of the tube, and maybe do a very light spritz blocking (I’m hesitant to do a full washed block for fear the orange might bleed onto the white). I hope to have full finished shots to show you soon!

Let’s go Tigers!!!

Septober Knitting :: Crackerjack

It’s Septober, y’all, and the race between the Tigers and the Royals is on. I’ve been watching lots of baseball, dreaming October dreams, and…

Crackerjack, with cat for scale

Tigers Crackerjack, with tiger cat for scale

… knitting on my Crackerjack!

After a 3-month hiatus, I finally cranked into gear, and I’ve now made it through August 11. I’m getting ready to leave the country for a few days, but there will still be a few days left of baseball season when I return, and I’m feeling a little more confident that I’m going to finish this project right when the regular season finishes up. And I’m feeling sooooo hopeful about the Tigers/Royals match-up this weekend. Let’s go, kitties!