Yesterday was a very strange day. It started at about 6:11 am when I got an email that said “one of your patterns is in an ebook on Amazon” and ended with me reading and listening to some amazing women in this Huffington Post Article about “Why It’s So Important That Women Empower Other Women“. Notice I said that’s how the day started and ended, in-between there were many clear messages coming my way that I had to take a moment . . . breath. . . and allow what was happening to happen. Now, before I go on I’m going to tell you this article will likely be long. I’m not going to apologize for that because there are worst things than taking a moment to read. But I’d really like you to take a journey with me and understand who “we” is and how they are killing the crochet industry.
When I started using the term Yarn Obsession way back in 2002 (oh my!) it was to put a name label on the crochet items I wanted to sell. My idea was to just sell some items, make a few dollars and work. Fast forward to 2015 and selling is no longer my mission. Why do I tell you that? Because what I want to share with you, the mission I so strongly believe in now, is light years from that woman who wanted to sell a few things and make a few bucks. The fact that you’re here, reading this is proof of that. The Yarn Obsession mission has nothing to do with me selling crochet pieces or patterns or books. It has everything to do with empowering women in a women dominated industry to take control, believe in their worth and create a women dominated revolution in the business world and in the crochet industry. It has everything to do with changing the crochet industry from within instead of allowing malignant growths to take root, fester and infect various aspects of the industry creating weakness and a feeling of “I told you so” in the business world. “They” tell us (women) all the time that we can’t be leaders of industry and we believe them. Not only do we believe them, we join them in tearing ourselves apart and then wonder why we aren’t gaining more.
Who are “We”
The “We” refers to us, women, who dominate the crochet industry. We, collectively are killing the crochet industry. How? By collectively being non-supportive of each other and thinking that there is shame in profiting from our skills. We collectively are killing the crochet industry by believing it’s okay to “get” a “for sale” pattern for free in a secret group where each person buys a pattern and shares it with the others. We collectively are killing the crochet industry by shaming those who create amazing patterns and dare to ask to be paid for their work. We collectively are killing the crochet industry by saying over and over again to ourselves and to each other “no one is going to pay that, for that”. We collectively are killing the crochet industry by not paying each other, or asking for payment for services rendered on something that will bring us profit. We are killing the crochet industry at a time when it should be commanding greater respect, profits and allowing the women who take the time to master their skills the opportunity to support themselves and their families on the income they make.
That’s why the Yarn Obsession mission is to empower those who know the worth of their skills, who have a true passion for the crochet industry and who are sincerely interested in the building up of crochet. Now, before you begin to throw rotten tomatoes my way because you aren’t one of “those” people I want to say this, there is not a person that I’ve met in the crochet industry that I have not liked and who hasn’t been willing to help me and I them when I could. There are also some amazing crochet artists (if you crochet, you are an artist) out there who are incredibly sincere in their desire to support the creators in the industry. I’m not talking about them when I refer to theft and lack of integrity or support. However, what I have come to realize in this women dominated industry is there is a permeating truth to Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead that says, women will tear down another woman if she is perceived to be too “bossy” or “strong”. So, what do we do? We show them, by not buying from them and by leading them to believe no one will buy from them.
To be fair I am not immune to having been ignorant of the etiquette of the industry. I’ve made my mistakes. A few years ago I decided to make a tutorial video of Sarah London’s Wool Eater Blanket because it was a free pattern. I didn’t ask for permission, I just did it. I did lead all viewers back to Sarah’s Blog and the pattern on her site and I made sure to let them know it was her pattern not mine. Because I did that, I thought everything was okay. However, on my video I had advertising so when viewers clicked or watched those ads I made money. I made money off of someone elses’ hard work and didn’t realize how wrong that was. When I realized the error of my ways, I did contact Sarah, but I didn’t hear back. There may be a lot of reasons for that, but I’m sure she wasn’t inclined as it was a breech. I have since taken down the Wool Eater Tutorial and I will contact Sarah again to see if putting up the tutorial without ads would be okay with her. You see, we can all get caught, but as Maya Angelou said “when you know better, you do better.” And that’s what needs to happen. More of us need to stand up for each other so more of us can do better.
Here’s a quick study: when I showed my brother what I could do with crochet, way back when I first started, and I asked what he thought the price should be, he said “think of a price and go up until you begin to laugh, that’s the price you should ask for it.” How incredible is that? Men don’t give their talents and skills away in the same we women do. Men believe that what they can do is valuable so they charge accordingly and we, men and women, pay them. I want to see that same respect in the crochet industry. We’re not all trying to get rich, but if we are, so what? Women can want to get rich because women have families. To get rich doing something you’re passionate for is the best way to live life.
Let’s Build Up Together
So the bottom line is this. I filed a complaint with Amazon about my copyright infringement because although you have the right to do whatever you want with the finished product from my pattern, you DO NOT have the right to take my pattern and sell it as your own. You also do not have the right to make copies and give them to your friends or group partners or anyone. Even if my pattern is free online, you should direct anyone you want to share the pattern with to my website and be supportive of my work. Being supportive is not only making items from patterns but it’s understanding that the revenue from the traffic and ads on a website help feed the pattern designer. It’s understanding that just like you wouldn’t make 100 copies of a book, you can’t make 100 copies of a pattern and think it’s okay. Going forward it is my mission to create an environment where crochet artists and crochet professionals will come together in support of one another and with full integrity to help build the crochet industry and NOT kill it!
Tell me, what will your part be?