I should start by saying nothing happened to me, nor did anyone call me a thief that I know of. But every once in a while I'll catch glimpses online of accusations being carelessly thrown around about other designers and it's so sad! It raises doubts about someone's ability to design without the aid of a cheat sheet. And I want to address that today with love and with good intentions so just hear me out for a few minutes.
We're talking about that designer who comes out with a cute but maybe a common design. Being an amigurumi pattern promoter I say, "Wahoo, they contributed another pattern to our amigurumi world, yay! Now there's another amigurumi to be made and loved by someone." But no, just wait, there's another side, a dark side...
How dare they! How dare they make something similar to so and so. Clearly.. OH clearly they stole parts of that design. They cheated and took parts and changed parts and called it their own! It's despicable. How dare they.. thief.. liar!! I'll tell everyone I can, I'll facebook message everyone I know. And all my friends will agree how shameful that person is.. what a thief!
little deeper for I too have been guilty of this. Yes, I have sinned. I'm guilty of thinking someone stole something when in all actual fact they didn't. This was a few years ago mind you and I never accused anyone in messages or groups but I'm guilty none the less. I received a fb message, "look at this! Veronica stole parts of Betty's pattern. What a thief.. LOOOK!" And I looked and with my limited knowledge of how amigurumis are designed I thought, oh ya there's some similar stitch counts and oh look they decreased the same way at the very same row!! They MUST of stolen it, how dare they. MY goodness, that's terrible! Poor Betty and what a thief Veronica is!
But really, what a foolish and horrible thing that was for me to assume someone is a thief just because there's similarities, actually.. "how dare I". You see friends, I can not cast a stone when I too have been guilty. So I'm not casting stones, I'm not! I just want to share with you some things I've come to realize over the years. And hopefully it'll spread a little peace in our small world of amigurumi.
|This image was found on google as free clipart, Please click picture for the original source.|
Amigurumi, it's cute and fun and easy to design with a little experience in shaping of course! And many of the designs out there are quite similar to each other. A mouse for example, what characteristics make that amigurumi recognizable as a mouse? Well, if I'm going to design a mouse the very first thing I do is google "mouse" and then search images and straight away the one I want is near the top. It's at the top because it's probably the most popular shape people will think of when they think mouse. So the photo above will be used as the model. I'll use this as a model for my mouse and as a designer with a bit of experience in shaping this shape is very easy and in no time at all I'll have it hammered out and posted. So happy, I've just contributed a pattern to the amigurumi world. But wait.. there's other amigurumi mice out there that look just like this one? Really?! Well yes, there's bunches of them out there. I wasn't the first person to design a mouse. I wasn't the first to google an image either, and I won't be the last.
And just how many ways can I get this shape? How many?! The formula that most of us will use is start with 6 and then use even numbered increases . Then how will I decrease that?? Well, I'm going to use decreases in the same even numbers, whatever I used to increase I will use to decrease.. it's not rocket science once you know the basics of shaping. For me it's very simple. I'm not being smug when I say that, I'm just saying this shape is super simple to me as a designer.
I've designed a mouse just like this one and so have many other designers. We all got the same shape using the same basic formula. And how arrogant would I be if I thought I was the only one who could think up this formula to get this design.
And if I changed the basic formula would I still have this shape? Depends on how much I change it. I can make it bigger, smaller, longer or wider but the cutest shape to me is the one in the google image so I'll try to get it to look as close as I can to that. And I'm guessing many other designers out there came to the same conclusion because most are similar and they are all super cute. So we're not stealing from each other we just did our best to get the cutest, the most pleasing to look at shape. The shape of a mouse has a fat bottom then tapers off at the mouth. Easy. Add ears, and again easy basic shape. A chain tail will be the best since it will look more like the one in the photo. And so must of thought the other designers and again, not thieves they just came to the same conclusions using the same basic formula.
Ok, what about other designs like monkeys, bears and bunnies?!
Most of us use the same formula again! You know why???
Because it works!!
We start with 6 and increase so the head of most amigurumi will be as follows:
row 1) 6
row 2) 12
row 3) 18
row 4) 24
row 5) 30
row 6) 36.. you can keep going and make it as wide a head as you want, then add about 7 or 8 rows of just sc then decrease using the same increments you used to increase. It's all done pretty much the same. Maybe some designers will start off with 7 and increase that way but 6 seems to be the magic number. I do change mine up at times to give the head fat cheeks but the basic head shape is what I just wrote out above
Last year I started making the bodies and heads on my amis all one piece. I used to make them in 2 pieces but I realized just how simple it is to make them one piece, and how wonderful to have less sewing! That wasn't from looking at or using anyone's pattern I just have gained some experience over the last 5 years. Crochet experience, it happens, we get better with time and practice. And again using the formula that works I can design very easily. Bears, bunnies, monkeys.. and on and on.. most of them start and end the same way. And it is very possible to have the same row and stitch count as other designs because it's a formula that works and then you just add parts that make them recognizable as the parts you're going for... legs, arms, ears and so on.
Those of us that can design will use a basic formula to get a basic shape. How many ways can you change the formula to make it unique? Well that depends on what you're designing. I designed a wheelchair last year and as far as I know it's the only one that has been published. It is unique for sure and I would know if the design was ever copied but I also designed a sock monkey to sit in it. The sock monkey is not unique at all. It looks just like most all other sock monkeys out there. I didn't steal that pattern I just used shapes and colors that would give me a sock monkey. A similar one might be published one day but that doesn't mean they stole my pattern it just means they used the similar shapes and colors to design a sock monkey! I'm talking about basic shapes given to amigurumi animals, there's only so many ways to design the shapes.
Another example, bunnies will most likely be given long ears that are wide at the top and taper down closer to the head. How many ways can you get that shape? If Veronica's bunny has ears that look like the Betty's bunny ears does that make Veronica a thief? NO! Those 2 designers have the same basic knowledge of shaping and used the same formula.
I am aware there are pattern thieves out there. I have had many of my patterns stolen. A stolen pattern is one that has been copied and pasted onto someone else's site. A stolen pattern is one that has been copied and is being sold on etsy or somewhere similar. A stolen pattern is taken and is sold as a cross stitch pattern, or traded for other patterns or exchanged for gold coins. A stolen pattern is one that is bought then shared freely on pattern sharing sites. A stolen pattern is one that has been translated without the designer's permission. A stolen pattern is looking at someone's design and making a cloned copy for the purposes of publishing. These are all crystal clear examples of theft.
Not stolen is a pattern that increases and decreases in a similar manner to another pattern. Not stolen is a pattern that may have the same row and stitch count for parts or whole of parts. Not stolen is designing something from a book or image and it turns out to be quite similar to someone else's pattern because they looked at the same book or image. Not stolen is a pattern that is similar to another just because of what it is like a bear, bunny, monkey and so on..
Never, ever make the assumption that somebody is a thief just because they used a formula that works. That is reckless and it is wrong. Just because you assume something does not make it true. You can easily get others to assume with you but it is still wrong.
Most of us designers are using the same basic formula for basic amigurumi animals. A formula that uses basic crochet stitches with increases and decreases to get the shapes that will make a bear look like a bear, a bunny look like a bunny, a mouse look like a mouse, a monkey look like a monkey. With a little creativity some will look a little more unique than others but the basic shapes that make up that amigurumi, the head, limbs, ears and tail will most likely be very similar to many other heads, limbs, ears and tails out there. It's just bound to happen.
When I first started designing I made a tiny blue bear from acrylic thread then I brushed it out and it was the cutest little fuzzy blue bear, I was SO so proud of him. I showed him off and promised to post the pattern but I caught a glimpse one day of another little fuzzy white bear that looked exactly like mine! It was published years before. Gasp! It was the first time I saw that white bear yet mine looked just like it. I couldn't possibly publish mine then, people will think I'm a thief so I threw out my pattern and just promoted the pattern I found that looked similar to mine. How sad! My pattern might have helped someone else and I robbed those people of a perfectly good pattern just because of my limited knowledge of designing and being afraid of what other people might assume.
So before jumping to any conclusions and maybe even ruining somebody's reputation, think about it. Think what makes that amigurumi recognizable as the animal it's representing. What makes a mouse a mouse. Why did you recognize it as a mouse? Because of its shape.. a shape is just a shape but give it some ears and a tail and ta-da! you got a mouse, or a bear, a monkey or a bunny. Try it out. Make some shapes, put them together to make an animal then look online and see just how similar it looks to many, many others out there. You'll be surprised!
This turned out to be a little more long winded then I first intended, my apologies! But I do hope this helps shed a little light and give a little food for thought. Think before you utter the word thief. How sad it would be to ruin the reputation of an honest designer just because of an assumption, a jump to a very wrong and reckless conclusion.
We are all worth more than that.. we all deserve more than that. There's room for all of us and we all have something to offer this world. And remember, similar does not make a thief.
Love and peace!