Category Archives: general


I finally got my Ravelry invite today. I got on the waiting list about a month ago, so it didn't take long. I spent a few minutes poking around, though I will have to be careful as it could prove to be an immense time-sink for me, with all the discussion about knitting and crochet. There's even a group for KnitML there, which I hadn't heard of before.

It's interesting comparing Ravelry to Facebook, as well. Surface impressions: completely different crowd, they don't ask for any information when you sign up except for an email address, username, and password. Of course, you can add info such as birthday or where you live to your profile, but it's not needed. Lots of links to sites outside of Ravelry, thus the site feels much more open to the rest of the world than Facebook. And maybe because it's more focussed, it will be more appealing long-term (there already seems to be quite a lot of Facebook ennui out there in the blogosphere).

If you're a keen knitter or crocheter, don't be put off by the fact you have to join a waiting list; it doesn't take long to get the invite and it looks like a worthwhile resource. One neat item: the yarn listing includes people's destash info.

Originally published on Anyway, my other blog.

Knitting and XML

Eve's XML and knitting analogy got me thinking.

You can think of a written knitting pattern as being the schema, with a set of instructions, just like the schema's content model. Then each knitted item you make that conforms to that knitting pattern is like the document instance that conforms to the schema. Schemas can be restrictive or allow lots of instance structure variations, as can knitting patterns. And, to tie it into my previous post on knitting and copyright, a schema can be copyrighted (and often is). The analogy does have a few problems when you start trying to figure out the relationship of the set of tags in a document instance and the content within those tags; if you think of the knit and purl stitches as being the elements, then the yarn would be the content. Except for, yarn can't really be original in the same way as the content in an XML document can be. Some people may disagree when it comes to hand-painted yarns, of course.

Originally published on Anyway, my other blog.

Knitting and Copyright

There was quite a lot of discussion about copyright issues in the comments to my knitted cushion piece; this is an important enough subject that it deserves its own blog posting. Obligatory disclaimer here.

The issue was whether a knitting pattern can be copyrighted. I believe that the complete pattern with all the words can be copyrighted in the same way as all my other postings are copyrighted. If it's original content that I created, and I haven't assigned the copyright to anyone else, then I have the copyright. So the main question is, can the straightforward description of the stitches (i.e., the "k1, p1" bit) be copyrighted? Mark claims it can't, because you can’t copyright the design and stitches. A related issue is whether you can impose licensing conditions on someone making the article described in the pattern (in the case of the cushion I designed, giving attribution).

Traditionally knitting has been about people making variations on known ideas. Elizabeth Zimmerman, one of the knitting gurus, used the word "unvented" to describe techniques that she discovered. She was convinced that someone else had probably discovered the technique long ago, but not written it down, so what she was doing was re-inventing, or "unventing". She also encouraged people to make variations on patterns, to make things their own. However, there are the legal aspects of copyright to consider. In the US, a knitting pattern falls under the Visual Arts category for copyright as long as it follows the basic rules. Copyright protects “original works of authorship” that are fixed in a tangible form of expression. In the UK, I assume knitting patterns would fall under the written work category, as it includes instruction manuals (a knitting pattern is arguably an instruction manual). For Canadian law, it's easier to refer to the web site written by an IPR lawyer. From there I read Section 5(1) of the Copyright Act specifies that copyright subsists in every “original” literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work. So my cushion pattern, since it is original in that sense, does have copyright protection. Including the arrangement of the stitches (or the basic "k1, p1" stuff). The stitch patterns on their own, the modules that I built the cushion pattern out of, which are traditional, aren't copyrighted, of course. It's my arrangement of them to form the cushion pattern that is.

The other question is what conditions I can impose on someone who wants to copy the pattern, or make articles from it. In my pattern, I specifically said people shouldn't copy the pattern, but should link to it instead. And that they can use the pattern to make articles, even for sale, as long as they give me attribution for the pattern. Most free knitting patterns contain the condition that the person not make the article for sale, but I decided I didn't object to that.

From all my reading, it's perfectly allowable (note I'm not saying anything about the moral aspects here) to impose such conditions on anyone wishing to copy the pattern or use it to make a cushion. You should not simply assume that because you have permission to make a copy of the sweater or afghan by following the pattern, you also have permission to deal with that work in any way, for example by selling what you made. In the knitting industry, it's very common for people to say that the resulting article may not be sold, and this is basically a contract that the knitter agrees to in using the pattern.

In fact, the industry norm is that items made from any pattern that the knitter buys or downloads (even free patterns) may only be made for the knitter or as gifts. So in the absence of a copyright notice on the pattern, it could be argued that those would be the implied conditions of use. This is not universally accepted; here's the starting point to one long discussion I read where this point was argued back and forth. I note, however, that even the person arguing that the knitted articles should be able to be sold also argued that credit should be given to the designer.



I am not a lawyer, I don't know any lawyers personally who deal with the issue of copyright in knitting, and thus although I have read quite a lot about the subject, any detailed questions you may have should be taken to someone who is properly qualified. And all of this legal stuff does vary with the country/state/province you live in. Most of my reading has been based on Canadian and US law; the laws in other countries may vary considerably. I do hope that people who know more about the subject than I do will comment.

Originally published on Anyway, my other blog.


I was a few months pregnant when Tim asked when I was going to knit some bootees (aka booties) for the baby. I wondered why he hadn't asked for the first child, he answered that he hadn't known I could knit back then. Fair enough.

So I got some yarn in time for the trip to Hawaii, thinking it would be a good chance to get some knitting in. I tried two patterns, one from a book of my great-aunt's, and one on the web; I preferred the web pattern (they're the bootees on the right). Once the baby arrived of course, we rediscovered why we hadn't used the bootees we had with our first child; they don't stay on the feet! Socks or outfits with feet built-in are much more practical. Although I did discover that if you put socks on first, the bootees do stay on longer.

The results of the Hawaii knitting are here, showcased on a tablecloth I got in Hawaii... Baby's jacket and bootees

The jacket is a seamless cabled jacket, knitted in Baby Soft by Lana Gatto from a free pattern that's no longer available. The only slightly tricky bit was making the increases work into the cable pattern properly, that required a piece of paper and a certain amount of calculating. Other than that, a reasonably easy knit and the yarn is lovely and soft. I just hope she spends as much (or more) time wearing it as I did knitting it!

Originally published on Anyway, my other blog.