I post one photo selection of each of my finished objects on Facebook, as a way to show my non-knitting friends (and long-distance family members) what I’ve been up to. They don’t have Ravelry accounts, so they can’t see the extensive project information that is stored there: specific yarn choice, pattern designer, yardage, start and completion dates, and much more. This just gives them an idea of what projects I’ve done.
I often get really supportive comments about how great my stuff is, and I get quite a few suggestions that I should start selling my finished products. Without going into too much detail, I usually just say I can’t, due to copyright… Which isn’t exactly accurate, so here’s a better explanation.
Unlike other pattern-based clothing, knitting patterns sometimes come with notes from the designer, saying the pattern is for personal use only, and the objects cannot be sold. Is it really possible to restrict someone’s finished product entirely? I’m not a copyright lawyer, but the general consensus is no, technically you can’t limit the sale of the item, but it’s generally frowned-upon to sell. Are we selling just the physical labor of making a piece, or are we also selling the designer’s creativity? What will sell better: a simple, universal pullover, or one with design elements, stitch patterns, and built-in ease?
I asked my Twitter followers what their views on the copyright matter are, and it was almost unanimous: it’s not illegal to make and sell an item, but it’s kind of a jerk move to do it without simply asking. Then you have something like this:
I used a pattern for this sweater to get a quick stitch count (to avoid doing gauge swatches), but didn’t use the color scheme, striping concept, button band, or suggested yarn. At what point are you far enough away from a concept that you can claim it as your own improvisation? I don’t know that I can answer that question.
I DO know that it becomes a frivolous debate very quickly for me, though, when I think about how much yarn costs, how long it takes to make an item, and how much money that would end up equalling. Let’s take my last FO, that Versio sweater:
I finished it in one month (36 days). Probably spent around 3 hours each weeknight working on it, and another 4 or 5 hours each weekend day for the entire month. Granted, there were days I didn’t knit, and days I knitted a ton, so this is just an average. Let’s say right around 100 hours total of knitting and finishing. The yarn, Wollmeise lace, is a generous 1700 yards, of which I used about 1200. The whole skein is about $50, so at 1200 yards, I used just over $35 worth of yarn.
If I get paid for my yarn, pattern cost, and labor at minimum wage, I end up at: