As each day the temperature drops lower, the impending doom of finishing my handmade coasters crawls a bit closer. I’m sure that you’re no stranger to knitting or crocheting as a hobby during the colder months, cozying in a chair with a basket of yarn, with a crochet hook knitting away like the helper mice from Cinderella to create pieces for your family and friends. For instance, I’m crocheting a beanie for my cousin right now while writing this article with pinterest open. But can inspiration for your own project be seen as property theft? Or can it be just seen as a petty argument online trying to claim crafting methods that have been invented for ages as your own? 


For those who don’t know, there are various methods to doing a crocheting project. You can either find a pattern online that gives you step by step instructions to making the item; or improvise the project, also known as freehanding. This allows more freedom of expression for higher skilled crafters that already have a firm grasp of crocheting principals. Some people, including myself, can have a hybrid of both to custom make an item to our needs, such as adjusting the size, material and style. Crochet patterns are made this way through testing, adjustments and inspirations from other finished products, the creator’s interests or already existing media. Many creators sell their patterns on platforms such as Etsy, Redbubble or even Ribblr rather than selling the completed product itself, usually targeted towards experienced crocheters and beginners. 


However, recently there has been a lot of online creators harassing smaller accounts or individuals for taking inspiration from their finished products. In a few cases, an online creator crocheted a coat, another crafter took inspiration from it and created their own version, then put the pattern on their shop for purchase. The creator and followers then harassed the individual off the social media platform. There has been increasingly more of these cases across social media as crocheting grew more popular amongst the newer generation, especially influencers overpricing their patterns, and accusations of pattern theft. 


“Can this truly be called or seen as theft? The same method has been used throughout the history of this craft for centuries.” Said an experienced crocheter. “You can’t just claim the item as yours just because you created a pattern. That would be like saying you’re the creator of all blue cardigans because you happened to make one, and not allowing other people to make their own is ridiculous” 


“Coincidences happen, and people sometimes don’t mean to steal other people’s patterns.” Another crocheter said. “Claiming a pattern as your own means getting a patent, which most of us don’t have due to the cost, and the genre of items are too broad, plus it restricts people from having fun. Harassing someone who’s been inspired by the pattern you created is a petty and disrespectful behaviour that discourages creativity.” 


In my opinion, it is natural that people take inspiration from others. This has been seen multiple times in art and contemporary pieces. Individuals have the choice to not purchase a pattern, maybe for reasons they’re unable to financially afford it, or that they’re simply referencing the item for personal uses. As long as the person isn’t making their pattern the exact same as the original creator, and using it commercially for their personal benefit, I think it’s acceptable for public usage. Afterall, why should we act as gatekeepers for something that we never owned? At the end of the day it’s all just a ball of yarn and some knitting needles, the creativity may be endless, but one day we’ll run out of new patterns to invent. Would anyone at this point call it “theft” if it means to make a variation in something previously created? We have witnessed this multiple times with music and artists, why should we treat this differently?