Soft in the Middle

First Off –

The winner of the Knitgrrl Guide To Professional Knitwear Design is [drumroll]

Janice in GA – chosen entirely at random!

So Janice, contact me with your address (if you’re on Twitter, dm me @modeknit) and I’ll have the book out to you very soon!  Thank you to EVERYONE who left a comment!


Would you swear at someone over this scarf?

I’ve been offering a scarf as a free pattern for several years now, the key to obtaining it being that you have to walk into your local yarn shop and ASK for it.

Why did I do it? Because yarn shop owners – like many folks in this economy – can use a bit of help.  It’s SO easy to buy all your yarn online and never visit your local shop.

I, myself, love the availability of yarn online, and think it’s wonderful that we have so many options.  But I also love the yarn shops, the sense of community, the technical and emotional support a knitter can receive from helpful folks there.

So I thought that by offering a unique pattern that folks would want to have, I might help knitters find their way to a local yarn shop.  At this point almost 450 yarn shops have requested the scarf.  The list on my website desperately needs to be updated, I know, but that’s become one of the lower priority things to do as I try to get the ‘mortgage work’ done.

Since offering the pattern, most of the response has been very good.  Most yarn shops are happy to have this ‘only at brick and mortar shops’ pattern, and most knitters who write for the pattern have been understanding when I respond to them thus:

Dear Knitter

I would LOVE to send the Ruffled Roses Pattern to you, but I’ve promised myself (and US Shop Owners) that I would ONLY send it to yarn shops.  I’m doing it to raise awareness that we, as knitters, have to visit our local yarn

shop every now and then to keep them in business.

I love to buy off the internet as much as the next person, but I also make it a point that no matter WHAT yarn shop I visit, I buy at least one small thing.  My case is different, obviously I earn my living from yarn shops, but I feel that as knitters – we ALL benefit from having a local resource to stop into for advice or to physically connect with other knitters and FEEL new yarns.

So if you have a yarn shop near you, let me know their name and I’ll see if I’ve sent them the pattern.  You can contact them yourself and ask them to ask me for the pattern, then when you go in they’ll GIVE it to you for free!

I’m sorry that it’s a round-about process, but I was hoping that a free pattern for an unusual scarf would be a good inducement for folks to seek out their local yarn shop!

Thanks so much for writing!

Of course, every now and then someone writes very angry that I won’t send them the scarf; they say the live too far from a yarn shop, or that it’s too much trouble, but mostly they just write and swear at me.

I love knitters, but when you put yourself between some knitters and a pattern they want, watch out!

When folks write from other countries (and I can verify this) or if they’re handicapped, I will send them the pattern, but only after they’ve promised not to copy it, post it online or email it to anyone.

As you guys know, I’ve been nutsy busy trying to get the last 5 videos up and voiced and edited for my online classes. I answer email, but sometimes I’m not as quick as I should be (I get over a hundred non-spam emails a day with questions, comments, and business related stuff)

I received an email last week that I set aside, knowing I’d answer it when life got calmer.

Hello….My name is Barbara. I am a knitter and knit every Monday morning

at cafe 210 and every Tuesday nights at Bev’s Fabric and Thursday nights at Borders with groups of knitters.

My friend sent me the web with the picture of your beautiful Ruffled Rose Scarf. Its such a beautiful pattern.

I wonder if you can send me the pattern using my email, fortunately, I am a
better knitter than I am at opening files, pdf, etc. I hope that you will have time to do this.

A little about our group….I am deaf and I was hestiate of joining this group about 2 years ago. It was either

staying at home knitting alone or taking a chance of how the groups would accept a deaf member. Well, I can say these groups of women and one young man (he is the top knitter) have been kind to me.
Thank you for the pattern!!!   Barbara
(If you do have time can you type: Ruffled Rose Scarf in the subject box, so I know its you.)
Thank you!
Barbara C–

To be honest, it was one of the cases where I was going to send her the pattern, but it seemed clear from the email she may not have been entirely clear on the ‘free to yarn shops’ scenario.

I figured I’d write her a nice email sometime this week, making it clear that it wasn’t a pass-around pattern.  I wanted to find a way to tell her that I wanted folks who were not disabled to visit to their local independent yarn shop for the pattern.

So I hadn’t replied to her yet as she had just written 5 days ago.

I received this today

oh me gosh!!!!!!

one look at that scarf picture, I copied it out in 30 minutes….easy to knit.  Now I will put it on my list of 800 knitters and send them all a copy.
So there is your BIG DEAL of making your pattern just like any other pattern.

What the hell is so special about that scarf.  So here is one up “yours”!

JESUS CHRIST…just another pattern.

Okay, folks, what is up with this?

I’m glad she can figure the pattern – bless her heart – that’s fabulous!  So go make the scarf and make yourself happy.  But why the swearing, nastiness, and promise to copy it to the 500 knitters on her list?

I know – just let it go – and I’ve become better at letting stuff go.  The amount of angry mail I get about patterns that aren’t even mine – much less questions about my own patterns – is astounding.

But why on earth would this woman take such joy in wrecking a scheme I’d set up to help yarn shops?

I wrote back that the pattern is under copyright, that I don’t earn a penny on it, but I WOULD pursue any infringement on that copyright.

What are your thoughts?  Is it time to just give up with the pattern for yarn shops only thing? Should I just sell the damned thing?

Yes, I’ll admit, I did think it made the pattern kind of special that folks could only get it at a local yarn shop.  But I also know how many people it POs because they all write to me, most of the letters pretty angry.


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58 thoughts on “Soft in the Middle

  1. bermd

    It is too bad that the concept of the world and it’s many options as being a big place that can and should accommodate many points of view is often missed. Never mind that people want the pattern and want it now! If you want to distribute it as you do to the LYS’s thats fine. It would be better to get up and get out anyway. Exercise is a good thing.As we all know , just like a local independent bookstore, when a lys is gone it is usually gone for a long long time if not forever.It is fine to offer things on the net, although advice is not usually forthcoming. Just move on. This is nonsense.The idea of the “price” as a trip to the lys is a good one. It accomplishes what your gesture means.


  2. Ramona C

    1. Yay, Gerry! I too have <3 personal technical adviser <3 and many's the time he's pulled my computer's fat out of the flames when I got cocky or tired/careless or just plain overestimated the capacity of my own geeky wisdom. Yay for

    2. You GO girl! Stick it out and yoga will definitely moderate the effects of your fibro. Just trust your instincts. If your body says give this class more time, do it. If it says maybe try another different class or style of yoga or location, do it.

    3. What the 4377 got her knickers in such a knot? She goes from gracious to rabid in 5 days about a SCARF pattern? Was it some sort of time-crucial knitting emergency? Must knit THIS scarf so Lassie can use it to pull Timmy from the well? Sheesh! Clearly she has issues with delayed gratification (which seems rather odd for a knitter, but as we know the craft attracts all sorts of folks).

    4. The copyright issue IS big deal. You have every right to assert control over the dissemination of your patterns in whatever way you specify! And most of us can reverse engineer all kinds of things, but that doesn't give us the right to blatantly recreate and distribute a pattern for someone else's original intellectual property! What a nerve!

  3. Hester from Atlanta

    Annie – I think it is really neat that a you have a LYS only pattern. It would be cool if others did the same. It seems to me that the deaf knitter missed the point completely. And no matter what you do or how you do it, some people are going to miss the point completely. It wouldn’t hurt to send her some references to copy laws, etc. You might suggest to the knitting internet world, if someone receives your pattern on a list, to please let you know so that you can start selling the pattern and perhaps have another LYS only pattern.

    Hope your fibro gets better soon. Hester from Atlanta

  4. bookboxer

    Barbara C. doesn’t have the skill to open pdf files but she has a list of 800 knitters? Hmm…. I agree with the others that this sounds a little fishy.

    As a librarian, I’m also sensitive to copyright issues and some folks’ feelings that it’s a good concept – unless is interferes with THEIR ability to get info and use it the way they want, when they want, without regard to the copyright holder. We keep trying, though.

    I personally love the idea of your providing the pattern through the LYS and will ask the shops around here to request copies from you. Very best wishes to you, Annie.

  5. Lawrence

    Hi Annie,
    I have not written any responses on your blog in a long, long time. Hope you remember me. I knitted a sample for your Men who knit book.

    Anyway, this really ticked me off on so many levels, too numerous for this writing. However, you are doing something great for the LYS and someone comes along and…want to screw it up. I wanted to say something else, but I am trying to be a gentleman. What is this person getting out of it other than the negative karma.

    By all means you should follow through with the copywrite infringment. I would like to see you continue to offer is for free through the LYS, but I would also understand and support if you choose to sell the pattern. I say do what works best for you. But don’t one schmuck ruin something that you have been doing out of the kindness of your heart.

    Be well Annie and all the very best to you.

    PS. To the schmuck. Things are changing greatly in our society, but one thing remains the same, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” SHAME ON YOU!!!

  6. honeybee33

    Thanks for the *excellent* reminder that I don’t have a thick enough skin to put my precious designs out there for the world to stomp on! ;~) Bless you for all you have to deal with …

  7. Keri

    Oh dear. She is certainly a sad and bitter (small) person.

    Your scarf is lovely. If I could knit (am a crocheter only, alas) this is definitely something I would love to make. I think it is wonderfully generous when patterns are offered in whatever form for free.


  8. Wendy

    As a LYS owner who happily shares your pattern with my customers, I LOVE your idea & your generosity of spirit.

    As an erstwhile designer myself, I could just scream! I can’t tell you how often people flagrantly defy copyright law & how often they ask me to join in by allowing them to copy patterns or by asking me to download & print patterns for them. (I solved that one by taking my printer home.)

    Whatever is best for you is best for you–make whatever changes you need to make–& in the meantime bask in the kindness & respect in these comments.

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