Somewhere, in a drawer, is a little red hat. It was the first thing I ever knit and I didn’t use a pattern. Nope, instead I found a hat calculator sort of thing, and then half ignored its directions, and ended up with something that was a touch too short, with a horrific seam line up the back, but otherwise quite wearable. Thus began a knitting-mantra of “fuck the pattern, I can figure it out myself”.
I don’t need no stinkin’ pattern! Or do I? Well, okay, sometimes the easiest thing to do is just use the damn pattern, but then what? If it’s free online, I’ll probably use it, because it’s there. I’ll modify it up the wazoo because that’s what I do, but I’ll use it. Failing that, one of four things will happen:
- “Hey, my library has the book with that pattern, I’ll drag my ass over there and borrow it.”
- “Well, I can order it online for five bucks, so why not, that’s not too bad.”
- “Looks like I can’t get my hands on it easily/cheaply, but meh, I don’t want to make it that badly anyway. Screw it.”
- “I DON’T NEED NO STINKIN’ PATTERN! I’LL FIGURE IT OUT MYSELF!”
The thing is… I don’t think I have ever had to resort to Option #4. The closest I’ve come to it is along the lines of “I like that collar/button band/stitch pattern and I think I’ll add it to this completely different sweater that I’m designing”. Which is not so much an ethical dilemma. I’m not copying their pattern and I’m not even copying their garment. I have never actually sat down with a picture of a knitted item and reverse engineered it as an alternative to obtaining a pattern for it.
Oh yes. That is a lil’ piece of Noemi, and though I’m sure I didn’t get it exactly right, I honestly can’t tell the difference between the stitch pattern of the real one and my fakey fake one swatched with scraps of orange acrylic. The shocking part was that it was really, really easy to do.
I didn’t even write anything down.
(Hmm. Maybe I should. Meh, effort.)
I don’t know if it’s a really simple stitch pattern, or if I’m some sort of knitting savant (thus adding to my list of Completely Useless Talents – why am I only good at things that are totally unmarketable?), or if I just lucked out, but, so easy. It took two tries, and I knew the first try was wrong like three rows in and knew immediately how to fix it, and now, if I want to, I can make that scarf without needing any stinkin’ pattern at all. But should I?
It just seems… wrong, somehow.
But it’s done all the time, isn’t it? I always see knitters trying to reverse engineer designer garments so they can knit their own version and I’ve never thought that to be wrong. But maybe that’s because there’s no alternative. There’s no pattern for that sort of thing, so you make your own. A machine-knitted item at a store. A pattern that is out of print. An improvised pattern that the designer has no intention of ever publishing. Okay. I can get on board with all of that. A… pattern that’s in a book that you don’t want to buy just for one pattern? Eh. I don’t know. Sketchy territory.
Maybe I’ve built up enough Pattern Karma from having published so many free patterns that it’s okay to do this once in a while. Maybe I am waaaay overthinking it. Maybe I am a little bitter that I’m on a budget and thus can’t just Do The Right Thing and buy the book. Maybe I should put away my fake!Noemi swatch and just pass on this particular project.
Maybe I should change the subject.
patiently waiting for my new skein of Smooshy to arrive – and if it’s the right colour, then I can frog my brown Lace Ribbon Scarf and start my black Lace Ribbon Scarf and and and… I will then have an extra skein of brown Smooshy demanding a pattern. And the angst will begin!
Except, no it won’t!
The unthinkable has happened and I found the pattern I want for it, immediately: Japanese Vines. And there will be no wailing and gnashing of teeth over obtaining this one, because it’s downloadable for five bucks. Nooo problem.
And yet, I still found myself doing a search for the stitch pattern online, and even, just for a second, considering trying to figure it out myself from a picture. What is this nonsense? AHHHH FAKE!NOEMI HAS SENT ME DOWN A SLIPPERY SLOPE LEADING STRAIGHT TO UNETHICAL PATTERN HELL. Hrm. Just buy the pattern, you big loser, sez my brain, and I’m gonna.
But I can’t, at least not yet.
Why? Because I am a dirty filthy project slut.
The second I have that pattern in my hot little paws, I am going to want to cast on for it. I MUST HAVE YOU NOW, DELICIOUS SEXY SCARF. But I don’t want to start it yet, because I don’t want to frog the brown scarf until I’ve started the black scarf and can make sure I do ‘em both the same, and can compare them, and all that sane, responsible stuff.
Okay, so what about after that? Well, after that I will be knitting up a black lace scarf. And while I have never been one for project monogamy, will I want to be knitting up a brown lace scarf at the same time? Wouldn’t that be like cheating on your boyfriend with some guy who looks and acts exactly like your boyfriend, but has, like, a different haircut? Doesn’t that seem awfully… indulgent? Isn’t this… the stupidest analogy ever? Yes. Yes it is.
All right then, I’m buying the pattern as soon the brown scarf is good and ready to be frogged, scarf-faithfulness be damned. I AM A PROJECT SLUT AND I AM NOT ASHAMED.
As for fake!Noemi, well, fake!Noemi is like that really hot guy who’s hitting on you at your friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s party, and you know that he’s sleazy, and you heard that he has a girlfriend, and it would be very, very wrong to hook up with him and you should probably give him a good hard slap and walk away. But he’s oh-so-attractive, and you really, really want to be bad…