Friday 4 November 2016

On Pattern Designing and Stealing

This is not the next blogpost I would have wanted to write.

Some of you will have followed the evolution of my Crystal Star design.  I spent several weeks on it and first showed it on my blog on 24 September.  Right at the end when the pattern was written up and ready to go, someone told me my pattern looked like one they had made 20 years ago.

First of all, I have to say that when I first had the idea for this star, I did look at several internet pages of tatted stars before carrying on, and in my search had not seen anything that looked like it.

My pattern came straight, and solely, out of my own head.

I had a look when she pointed me to it and I agreed that we had come to a very similar shape by coincidence.  This design is a fairly straightforward one with just rings and chains (no fancy techniques, not even reversed chains or anything like that) so it's not that incredible that we created something similar independently.  However, I genuinely still felt that they had different features and were individual enough that there was space for both patterns to exist.  For my part, I felt that the crystal centre was the main, special feature of my design.  I have not seen it done this way and thought I'd come up with something original and innovative.

I have now been accused of having stolen the design and of selling a pattern that is available for free elsewhere.  Strong accusations.  My design was not a "take" on hers, my design came from doodling on a piece of paper, from ideas in my head, and thinking of a simple frame for the crystal star centre I was planning.   I agree the two designs have many similarities but they also have several differences which I thought made them individual (please bear in mind that what I was shown was the original, cabone-ring version of her star, not the one that can be seen now on her blog).

I do not need to steal anyone's patterns, I have plenty of ideas of my own.  I was all excited last night because I'd come up with a new design and was eager to share it with you.  That was going to be my next blogpost.  But this has rather curbed my enthusiasm.


I started writing this two days ago but hadn't posted it because I didn't want to cause any more aggravation.  It's just not my kind of thing.  I try my best to be polite and respectful with everyone.  I removed the pattern for sale straight away, hoping we could resolve this amicably but this morning I see that the person has now re-tatted her star with my crystal centre (I was trying to avoid links and names but I will here:  link).  And she is saying she will make a technique page for her new design with the crystal centre.  Well, I'm speechless.

I never set out to upset anyone, I was just trying to mind my own business and make lovely lace.

It's enough to discourage anyone from having a go at designing.

Best wishes,


  1. I’m so sorry Joëlle. I’ve been watching the situation unfold, and have been repeatedly dumbfounded by the other person’s behavior. It’s unfortunate as these kinds of incidents scare budding designers away from the craft. Additionally, your pattern has now been shelved, and I’m sure there were loads of people who were eager to tat it.

    What I find most ironic is this: In an attempt to prove that you “stole” her design, she has repeatedly reworked her star to make it look more like yours. As a result, her new design and beaded center is actually a ripoff of yours, not the other way around.

  2. Nobody has accused you of 'stealing' copyright - well, I certainly haven't. I haven't used that word at all but others have. That design can be seen many places but I just pointed out that the design which I did was already 'out there' and for free. Tat's all. I haven't re-worked it - just removed the cabone ring. It seems that I'm now branded the 'baddie' for trying to help those who couldn't afford to pay for the design to save their money.
    I am already making a technique page as I've no idea how you added those beads to the centre but worked out a way for myself. As everybody knows - techniques aren't copyrightable anyway. I will send you a copy privately for you to check to see if it's the same before I add it to my site.

  3. Both patterns bear an uncanny resemblance to a pattern by Anne Orr that was republished in 1985 by Dover. This is a reprint of Ann Orr's book #35 published in 1940, but I believe that the pattern is older than that as Anne Orr's patterns date back to the turn of the century, which puts it in the public domain as the copyright has expired. Her pattern has six points, to form a snowflake type pattern, has two rings below the trefoil where yours has three. Jane used a ring in her original pattern where you chose to use crystals and a technique to have the crystals form a star within a star. Yours also seems to lay better.

    Now, something I learned from designing a few patterns in knitting... there have to be at least three differences between patterns in order for it not to be considered copyright infringement. You cannot copyright an idea (i.e. creating a tatted star using rings and chains) but can copyright a pattern. With her recent blog post about rewriting her pattern to use the crystals or beads in the center like yours, well, now she is guilty of doing what her friend accused you of. You have felt the need to remove your pattern for sale because of the accusations of her friend, which is going to result in a loss of income. I am not familiar with the intricacies of the law in the UK, but I do believe that if this went to court, she would find that she would be on the losing side and possibly be required to pay damages since this resulted in a loss of income to you. It is not my intention to start a war on your blog, but I feel that this must be pointed out and with her stating she will rewrite her pattern with the center beads, clearly after the date that you have documented on your blog that you have done yours is an attempt to subvert the sale of your pattern. There are obvious differences in your pattern and the beads in the center were clearly your idea. No, you cannot copyright an idea, but to redo a pattern to look more like another pattern is just morally wrong.

  4. I am so, so sorry for the acrimony. Both of you have so much to offer, much quite different and some similar. I was thrilled to test tat this and your technique for the center is so CLEVER and would be a boon to others. I hope that there will be a way for you to share this even if you don't go ahead with the star. Please don't stop. Your work is lovely, beautiful and fun to tat. I love how everything I've ever tried from you lays perfectly without any mangling or mashing to get it correct. That is NOT a comment about anyone else just a remarkable thing I've noticed about you.

  5. Here's hoping for a speedy and amicable resolution. We work in a craft where we all influence each other, building on each other. The only thing we can give as individuals is respect. I respect all designers as true artists, and the two in this situation even more than most.

  6. I am sorry that you are having a problem, your star was beautiful, ideas can't be copyrighted but we all have ideas which we work hours on and produce work from.
    Twenty years ago beads were not put in tatting like they today, your snowflake as you say with the crystals made a crystal within the snowflake, a brilliant idea.
    I hope this situation can be sorted.

  7. I had hoped it wouldn't come to this pass .
    I really don't see why you need to remove your Crystal Star ? It is up to the purchaser to decide whether it is worth a buy or not. And there was plenty of excitement !
    The issue is not copyright violation but free v/s payment ;-)
    The concept in terms of progression in the pattern may be same in both cases, but the outcome is vastly different. Your star has elegantly tapering arms - the change in width from base to tip is very distinct.

    You know when a priest, before declaring the couple 'man & wife' asks whether any person has any issue or objection "... speak now or forever hold your silence". Well, may be we should apply this to all our designs as a rule. When we create a design, may be we can put it up for display with a 4-5 day grace period for anyone to come up with objections regarding any kind of violation. If by that time all is well, let them forever hold their peace & silence ?
    For instance, you've done it in this case - posting pics and asking for suggestions. If during all that period there were no objections, there should be none after so many weeks.
    I don't do it in general. I like to post the final version, with prototype, design process, etc. all in one post. From now on, I'm am going to put up my designs-in-progress so tatters have plenty of time to crosscheck :-)
    Just a thought. Best wishes always

  8. Calm, calm, Joelle. There are so many designs that are similar. I even have one in my book, 'Beads in Tatting'(1997). You have your design notes/photographic record for Crystal Star, so there is nothing to fret over. Don't remove it. Let other tatters enjoy it.

    1. So well said. Thank you, Judith for your comment. I agree 100%

  9. I'm very sad and a bit upset that someone accessed you of theft. I have always enjoyed your blog and I know you always take great pains to be considerate and careful. I am surprised as well of the source. I too was looking forward to your star. Personally, I think your designs are superior.

  10. This is really weird. I've been a follower of your blog and youtube channel since I learned tatting in 2014 and It's obvious to me that you would never have any need to steal an idea. Your passion for the craft just radiates! Thank you for your generosity and for your gorgeous work.

  11. I hope you will post your star pattern for sale. Your design definitely is not the same as the one available for free. The number of rings and chains differs, and yours has more elegantly tapered arms, as someone has already pointed out. And of course, the crystal center is great too! I'd rather tat your pattern.

  12. "Tatted Snowflakes" by Jennifer Williams was published in 2015. The center of her Gillian snowflake has a very similar (if not the same) technique for adding multiple beads at the center. Stars with tapering arms have been around for decades. Personally, I think your execution of both ideas was lovely, and unless you had exactly the same stitch counts, I think it is FINE for you to sell your design.

  13. We are working with two components, rings and chains. While thousands of combinations can be made , there are bound to be ccoincidences. You are a talented designer and I am so thankful for your unique patterns.

  14. I'm so sorry to hear about this kerfluffle (I've been offline for a while). It is quite common for two people to independently design similar, and sometimes identical, patterns - I've even commented on this on some of my snowflake posts. Please do not be dissuaded from designing and posting your designs!

  15. I am so sorry this happened to you! I have loved your posts, and your YOUTUBE videos. You have such a lovely way of explaining and showing clearly what you do. I am a HUGE fan of your and have learned SO much.

    1. Dear Jan, thank you very much for your comment. I had not revisited this post for many years and I should have replied to all the other kind comments of support above. It was an unpleasant few weeks at the time and it never really got resolved but I've put it in the past now and, as you know, have carried on with my own work. I really appreciate your kind words, it means a lot to me.


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