Now that you know about my green-eyed monster, it's time to discuss her equally unattractive cousin: Mr. Bitter.
Before you dub me as a terrible individual, let me remind you again that I'M NICE. For real. A nice person who happens to have an undeniable problem with bitterness. Love me...
As I mentioned yesterday, it's easy to give the impression of a near-perfect lifestyle on social media when you get to pick and choose the parts you show. It’s just as easy for others to forget there’s a real person on the other side of an Instagram photo feed or Facebook page. Someone who has feelings and insecurities and flaws.
I’m beyond grateful for the social media love and support I receive on a daily basis, and words cannot express how happy I am that so many people are interested in what I’m doing. Sometime's it's surreal, and I wonder how I got to this magical place in my internet life.
Seeing people chatting to each other about how much they love your new item can fill any artist with pride. The doubts you had about a new style slowly begin to fade away when you see visual proof of people enjoying your work. Give me ALL the nice Instagram and Facebook comments.
But sometimes those escalate to more than just compliments. Like when someone wants to make that new hat style or funky scarf you shared, and they request information to recreate it themselves (what's the pattern? What yarn? How many stitches? What size needles?).
A lot of knitters and crocheters sell their patterns, have them available online, or followed someone else's, so asking about a pattern is 100% a fair question. But if I don’t want to share a pattern I created, which took me hours of frustrating and painstaking trial and error (flashback to me crying on the floor in my dead knitwear graveyard), does that make me a bad person? Selfish? A downright dirty secret keeper of knowledge? According to some personal messages I have received over the past several months, it does.
As I become more involved with social media, I’m realizing how much of a toll this can take on a maker. You can’t have light without the dark. This I know. But DANG, why can’t people just be nice?
(Bitterness level begins to rise. They don't appreciate or consider the work I put into this, and feel entitled to what I've created to the point of actually being mean to me when they don't get what they want. My excitement to share something new is replaced with disappointment and regret and sadness, even hesitation for sharing in the future).
Sometimes people don't talk to me about a pattern at all. I’ve seen folks have entire conversations with one another in the comment sections of my photos about their plans to make that scarf I was so excited to share, and then sell it to someone.
Did I invent this scarf style? No. Do I own the idea? No. Does it bother me when someone openly talks about making a scarf identical to mine for the purpose of selling it for personal profit and gain? In a perfect world, no. But I’m an imperfect person, and it has become a real struggle for me.
(Bitterness level continues to rise. Now they're not even asking me for a pattern, which I don't know how to write anyway but that's besides the point. They're having an entire conversation, blatantly planning to recreate my work, in my own comment section. Haven't they heard of private messages?).
These experiences aren’t only limited to the internet either. I took part in quite a few handmade markets from October to November, which was, to put it in the simplest terms, a heck of a lot of work. The hours spent knitting and crocheting stock alone was tiring. Then to spend the time physically at the events, talking constantly to strangers for hours, was just plain exhausting.
So imagine, here you are, standing proudly beside the mounds of product you’ve put weeks of blood, sweat and tears into, when two people approach. You straighten your sleep deprived body to greet them with a cheerful hello, only to see one lean to the other and say, “I could make that for you. Probably for a cheaper price too.”
OK, you think to yourself, it’s a free country. They probably just don’t realize how loud they’re talking about making my scarf…
That’s when they ask for your pattern. And when you politely decline to share it, saying it's one of your own design, they proceed to count the stitches on your item themselves.
Yes, this actually happened to me.
(Bitterness level: critical).
You try to put on a brave face, gritting your teeth as you force a smile and wish them luck with their project. Maybe you even muster a stiff wave as they walk off to the next booth while, in your increasingly tired state, you fight back the urge to collapse into a ball of sadness and hopelessness…
OK it’s not nearly that dramatic, but you get the idea.
Don’t get me wrong, I'm not sitting here on my golden throne stewing in big ole pot of hatred for anyone who looks at my knitwear the wrong way. Every piece of my knitwear has been inspired by something. I've found inspiration in clothing store window displays, my wardrobe, high fashion runway models, an accessory I saw someone wearing walking down the street, a magazine, you name it. I've even seen knitwear on a baby that I wished came in my size, so I made an adult version. I've also seen other pieces of handmade knitwear online and at craft markets, and fallen head over heels in love.
As tempting as it is to recreate someone else's genius idea, I try to remember to take a step back and consider the work that probably went into it. I love it, I want it, how can I make it ME. Can I change the colour or weight of the yarn, or material all together? Choose a different stitch, or perhaps the type of accessory itself?
As I strive to grow and shape knitbrooks into something I can be proud of, how can I take a beautiful creation I've stumbled upon and transform it into something I feel is genuinely my own? (I wouldn't feel guilty about stealing some of that girl's tan though).
I've had other knitters and crocheters contact me privately to say they're interested in making something inspired by one of my pieces, wondering if that was OK. Instances like this are a breath of fresh air, because I feel they respect me enough not only to explain their intentions, but to ask if it's alright. They obviously don't need my permission, but it's nice to know they're thinking about how it would affect me.
Inspiration is a wonderful thing, and if I can somehow give back and be a part of another person’s creative process the same way others have sparked my own, that's great! I'm all about sharing the handmade love.
My point is, words and actions matter more than you could ever know.
Hello friends, I'm Kelly! I'm a 27-year-old cozy enthusiast who loves creating things with yarn, exploring the beauty of nature, and eating Brooklyn style pizza.