Thursday, November 3, 2016

Patterns and the Picayune

I am fed up.

This is the first time I have used my blog to write a retort to what I am constantly seeing about copying tatting designs.

This is the first time I have responded to online complaints by tatters whining about patterns and designs being stolen: stolen and sold.

I am fed up with reading rubbish about copying from those who know little or nothing about what is allowed and what is not.

If in doubt, speak with your solicitor. Lawyers are the experts in design theft. Make certain the solicitor's specialty is Intellectual Property, for there is an abundance of misinformation, even in the legal community; this is a convoluted and complex area of the law.

Let me make it abundantly clear: I advocate neither the copying nor the selling of other people's designs. I repeat: I do not promote design theft.

If you copy and sell, that is copyright infringement. Plain and simple. Copy and sell, you break the law.

What I know is that for a design to be new, the overall impression should be substantially different from any existing design. Substance is considered the part of a design that defines your work as unique and truly gives it originality.

That said, look at these designs:

They all begin with a star, which is either a five or six point shape, to which no copyright attaches. 

Then there is a personal adaption of that star, with varying stitch counts, repeats, unique centres or  outside chains. There can be many, many variances, all individually chosen.

Keep in mind that the trefoil pattern, like the star shape, cannot be owned any more than can these shapes:

There is really no substantial difference visually in any of these designs. 

It would follow that a designer could use an ubiquitous, common pattern, embellish it and sell it without doing harm. 

Equally, a designer could re-work a pattern owned by no one, individualize it giving it a personal design twist such as an outside beaded chain, or an unusual centre with a doodad insert or crystals. It can then be either given away for free or sold for profit. Either way, it would follow that there is no theft.

This is a tatting design utilizing rings, chains, the trefoil and from 1921 - almost a century old now.

An adaption by Tina Frauenberger, "Manual d. Schiffchenspitze," Vol.2(1921) p.65

Monica Hahn , "Christmans Angels and Other tatting Patterns"

Star Snowflake by Myra Piper

A Free Needle Tatting Pattern

Lots of star patterns and trefoils, all with an individual twist.

There is nothing new under the sun - keep it in mind.

And don't copy.
I'm done.



  1. Absolutely! I think the subject might've become needlessly fraught.

  2. Love the way you have compiled & explained ! Had to look up picayune, though :-)

  3. I highly respect both tatters involved in the star feud and I'm sad about it and agree with you--how can anyone claim to invent a new star pattern now?

    There is room for everyone's designs!

  4. A word to look up in the dictionary for me, but I think I got and agree the overall meaning. Don't copy. I love both designers's stars and also I feel everytime that I'm reinventing the wheel. But I love tatting and playing with simple rings and chains and I enjoy every little flower. Tatting I hope will be more and more loved, as more as people like those two sweet designers keep on reinventing their own beautiful wheels.

  5. Thank you for this post. You said things very well and the explanation is clear.