Help! My designs are being stolen!

Fingerless_mittens

Way back in 2012, my Hedgerow Fingerless Mittens design debuted here on my TwoStrands blog. That’s the cover page to my original design which you see, above. Months ago, I redid them in Shetland DK yarn.  You can see that version on my website here.  Today, I see that someone who goes by “Voolenvine” has stolen my copyrighted Hedgerow chartwork, plunked it on a pair of otherwise plain socks, called it her own “Klara” sock design and, as you can see on her 8/2/2019 YouTube channel video, she carries with a long story about her “inspiration” for “her” (stolen) design.  Here’s the link to her YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJdmwX_5ckE

You’ll see her “Klara Socks” using my stolen Hedgerow design show up 7:14 minutes into her video and she shows them, claiming them as her work, for more than 3 minutes, up until 10:24.

Oh *$&%#@$, she’s done the same in more of her YouTube videos!  The previous episode, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJdmwX_5ckE, has more of the same lies, claiming my Hedgerow chartwork as her own.

Voolenvine on Youtube

You can also see “Voolenvine”‘s Klara Socks” on Instagram, where a (possibly entirely innocent and unsuspecting) test knitter shows her test knit, with my Hedgerow chart work on it, in progress: https://www.instagram.com/p/B0vyuMypPHI/

Hedgerow stolen by m_a_mackie and voolenvine

 

Interestingly, Voolenvine does not show these socks as WIPs on dear, old Ravelry, where my Hedgerow Fingerless Mittens PDF has sold for ages.  UPDATE: Ooops, I take that back!!

I’ve commented on these pages and I’m submitting official complaints about this infringement to YouTube and Instagram.  Unfortunately, that isn’t enough to stop thieves and posers from infringing elsewhere.  Sadly, I’ve found copies of my chartwork on many sites over the years and, no doubt, some will continue to pop up here and there.  But, this is, by far, the most outrageous theft yet.  Can you believe she went to the trouble to build an extensive narrative involving her great-grandmother around this?  Nuts!  Since this is so blatant, since I know many of you dear readers are also indy designers and it’s highly unlikely that my design work is her only theft, you folks should know about this.  Somehow, there may be more chapters to this saga!

Edited to add: It looks as though she has removed the offending posts from both Instagram and YouTube, although I can’t speak for the test knitters’ posts (and I have to presume that all test knitters are entirely innocent.)  We’ll see how that unfolds.  In the meantime, I just dug out my old swatches and rough draft projects in which I used my old Hedgerow motif.  Compare her new sock colors with my twenty years or so old sock.  If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then I’ve never been so flattered in all my days! 😉

IMG-5958

My Hedgerow motif. After nixing the socks, and delaying on a matching cardi for the well-worn pullover, I eventually published the mitts in 2012

And another photo…Those of you who know me can vouch that this is a seriously old photo!

hedgerow-garden-bw

Mary Ann Stephens, designer of Hedgerow pullover, socks and mitts.

 

 

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About twostrands

Traditional knitting with a colorful twist. Website = MaryAnnStephens.com.
This entry was posted in copyright, Fair Isle Knitting, Knitting, Mary Ann's Designs, Norwegian Knitting, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Help! My designs are being stolen!

  1. walkingcalm says:

    Her Ravelry project page for them is here:
    https://www.ravelry.com/projects/voolenvine/klara-socks

    Best of luck, Mary Ann. I despise intellectual theft.

  2. Rachael K says:

    Her Ravelry project page for the socks is here:

    https://www.ravelry.com/projects/voolenvine/klara-socks

    Best of luck, Mary Ann. I despise intellectual theft.

    • twostrands says:

      Thanks a million, Rachel! Wow, her Ravelry socks really look like a stitch-for-stitch copy of my design! (While some of the test knits might have an error here or there.)

  3. walkingcalm says:

    Here is her project page for the socks on Ravelry:
    https://www.ravelry.com/projects/voolenvine/klara-socks
    I also contacted Ravelry about this, since she mentions she plans to present the pattern sometime this month.
    Best of luck, Mary Ann. I despise intellectual theft.

  4. Diane Donle says:

    left my sentiments on 2 sites. so sorry this has happened. please know you are in my thoughts and prayers.

  5. Philly says:

    That’s terrible. Such a beautifully designed pattern. Did you ask her to take it down? That’s where I would start, if you haven’t. She may not want the bad reputation. Hugs.

  6. Mandy Fell says:

    the links are gone now for her socks. So something must have been done… Yay.

  7. She removed your comments from Instagram. 😦
    You should report the matter to Instagram immediately.

    • twostrands says:

      Thanks! Yep, as soon as I saw one of her YouTube podcasts showing off the socks, I let Instagram know about it. I see that she has removed her last 3 podcasts, i.e., the ones containing her wildly false statements about the socks. I’m not looking to destroy anyone, but I do hope this can foster a bit more honesty on the internet. Thanks again!

  8. You did the right thing. Your timeline clearly shows when you first published photos of the knits already. I am glad that she removed it. Pity things like has to happen first before one can rectify it. All the best and keep creating stunning patterns. 🙂

  9. redmarwy says:

    I would never have thought that Kristen would ever do such an awful thing to another knitter. I have to admit that she did copy your pattern exactly. That is terrible. I hope that she apologized to you.

    • twostrands says:

      Aw, thanks for your support and understanding. I really liked the idea of letting this whole upsetting thing be forgotten back in August. I’ll bet Kristen did, too. That was my plan. After sharing my shock from the discovery, I figured making the pattern free would divert the attention from the copying fallout and the copying would be resolved behind the scenes. But, you’ve kindly raised a question about an apology and, like any dear readers’ questions here, it deserves an answer. A few other people have been wondering about this, too, so I guess it’s time for me to share my viewpoint on it.

      Shortly after YouTube removed her videos related to this, she left this comment on my Instagram page: “Dear Mary Ann, this was just brought to my attention. Please accept my sincere apologies! I can honestly say I wasn’t aware of your pattern and acknowledge the similarity. Therefore, I cannot and will not be publishing. I have removed the sock pattern in question from my feeds. Please know copying your design was not my intent. Kindest regards”

      While she used abundant apology vocabulary in her sweetly-worded comment, if you know the background, it was one of those “I’m sorry, but…” messages that really turn out to be anything but sweet or apologetic. My chart that she reproduced on her socks had been on Ravelry, Pinterest, Yahoo, Google images, my blog, my sites, my pattern, multiple clone sites and who knows where else for ages. With its being so widely distributed, yes, it’s perfectly understandable that she had no idea it belonged to me in particular. But nothing in her comment addressed the absurd unlikelihood of her oft-repeated story from her widely-seen posts, that inspiration from her great-grandma magically lead to an exact copy of a stranger’s widely available, many-rowed chart showing up on her socks. Instead, she visited my page to say that she acknowledged the “similarity” but copying my design was not her intent. For someone not intending to copy, she did a spectacular job. For centuries, there have been, and will always be, countless “similar”, staggered, angular leaf designs in all sorts of visual arts and I have no problem with them. But, there’s a very important difference between “similar” and “identical”, and therein lies the problem. Who can say exactly what her intent might have been? None of us can say for sure. If she could have confirmed it was more than 70 years since the death of its creator (nope, still here) my reproduced chart would have been fair game, but it still would have necessitated crediting the found chart. For someone who does not have a single published color work design to her name to suddenly reproduce a stitch-for-stitch copy of a many-rowed, many-years-old, copyrighted chart that had recently been illicitly shared all over Pinterest, among other sites, as cute and sweet and well-known as she is (really, she’s adorable – as they say, “She could sell ice to Eskimos!”) I don’t believe she honestly described her intent. To me, it looked as though her intent was to write a comment on my page that made her look as sweet and innocent as possible while reducing her identical copy of a stranger’s many-rowed, copyrighted chart work to an innocent, accidental “similarity”. It wasn’t just a similarity and to me, it wasn’t a true apology. But, in the end, so what? It’s over and I think we’d both like to keep it that way.

      I’m grateful she has removed her offending posts – that’s what matters most. The whole reason this was ever a problem is that, even though my Hedgerow chart was published in 2012, and I shared photos of it online years before that, her viewers who first saw my chart in August and compared it to her sock might have understandably thought the shoe was on the other foot, that I had copied her recent work. That scenario can unfairly do terrible things to a designer’s reputation. Any designer should want to protect against that scenario, one which she created, inadvertently or not, when she publicly laid claim to an exact copy of the Hedgerow chart work. Now, she has removed any possibility of that scenario doing any further harm and I’m very happy about that. Haven’t we all made mistakes at one time or another? My motivation in exposing the duplicated chart work was simply to protect the authenticity of my own design work. It was way messier than I had hoped for, but thanks in large part to the support of many of you here who know my design work, I think the authenticity has been established. Unfortunately, when someone oversteps on the internet, that necessitates correcting the boundaries on the internet, too. That’s a painful process, exposing individuals to all sorts of trolls who really don’t care to know the facts, but only enjoy hurting people. (At least that’s been my experience; I hope she’s been spared that nonsense. ) Now that the boundaries for Hedgerow have been clarified, there’s no reason to wish Kristen any ill-will at all. I’d like any negative comments about what type of person she is to stop. At this point, I have no reason to think she’s anything other than a fine person who made a mistake I sincerely doubt she’ll ever make again. We’ve all made mistakes. God knows, I have my own share of them. Doesn’t everyone? I’m grateful she’s taken at least some steps to acknowledge hers. Whether hers was what some of us consider a sincere apology or not, let’s be kind. Kristen, if you’re reading this, understand that I look at this as a little mistake that’s behind you and I look forward to bright, happy, original things coming from you in the future. I hope you’re no longer troubled by any of this. If by chance you are and you want to talk to me about a happier way to resolve this, I’m all ears. Send me an email and let’s work together to clear this up. Best wishes, Mary Ann.

      BTW, for those of you wondering about the authenticity of identical-looking knitting designs, in addition to the obvious Google search, one excellent way to know which version came first is to check the Ravelry page for the design. For instance, one troll recently suggested that my Amaryllis Mittens design, which you can see from both this blog’s old posts and from Ravelry, was a design I published in 2008, was something I copied from a book that was published within the last year or two. Oh, come on! You know, ages ago, I worked “on Wall St.” If I could see more than a decade into the future, it’s not a big stretch to think of something to do with that skill other than copying obscure mitten patterns! 😉 I guess sometimes laughter is the best medicine against some of these trolls. 🙂

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