I adore whipping up tiny kiddo knits. They’re so cute, I can hardly stand it. This one is no exception. I’m making the Little Joey Kangaroo Hoodie, but I’m sticking some heavy modifications in it. I’m knitting it in the round, drastically altering the armhole shaping and shoulder shaping, and doing the sleeves from the top down with short rows. The pattern is more of a rough guide at this point.

little fox

When is a pattern no longer the original pattern and your own? I’ve heard people say things like, “make 3 changes in a pattern and it’s your own,” but that seems far far far too vague, and probably not enough changes to call something your own and produce a pattern for it. For something like this, I would never try to write something up that’s similar and publish it as my own, even if my construction is mostly different. It seems like the difference between following the spirit of the law, versus following the letter of the law. I guess I’m aiming to follow the spirit of the law here, even though I don’t know what the actual “letter of the law” is when it comes to this level of finesse regarding knitting copyright.

What are your guidelines? I come across patterns that are SUPER similar in Ravelry all the time, by different designers. I’m betting most of this is pure coincidence as many of us probably use similar reference tools, like Barbara Walker’s Treasury of Knitting books, and Vogue Stitionary books. I purchased all four of Barbara Walker’s books last year and saw many stitch patterns that inspired designs. Nevertheless, I was rather floored when someone commented that my Summer Slice socks looked like Wendy D. Johnson’s Peace Socks. Yep. Almost the same darn socks. Guess we both used the Stag Lace from the first edition of Vogue Stitionary.

I’m not alone. These garter stitch mitts vary only slightly from these, save some short rows for the thumbs. These three baby sweaters all seem to be using the same cable pattern as a reference. These are just the few examples I could remember. There is nothing new under the sun! Sweaters, socks, hats, mittens, etc. can only be constructed in a variety of ways, with a variety of stitch patterns, and different kinds of fit. I guess I’m just feeling philosophical. I’d love some opinions on this matter, especially if you dabble in design.

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