L'Arbre x Fringe Association
As the years pass I find myself with less and less time to read blogs, but hers is one I try to keep up with. Karen is a researcher, a compiler, an educator and a zealous knitter. She also happens to sell some of my favorite knitting supplies through Fringe Supply, a sister site she runs alongside the blog. They're no nonsense and starkly beautiful. Karen has taste for days, so I'm tickled she picked my hat out of the zillions out there.
Real talk: books take a long time to make. My book took an especially long time to make. I designed L'Arbre in 2011. It was one of the very first book pieces I finished. When I design something so simple, I do a thorough Ravelry pattern search to see if a particular stitch pattern or technique has already been covered before. At the time, this one (Little Tent from Barbara Walker's 1st treasury) hadn't been used for a hat. I was shocked, and proceeded with what is one of the simplest designs in the book.
Since there is such a long lead time between designing book pieces and seeing them in the world, I knew that a parallel design was probably going to happen. Norah used to call this "the ether." If someone published a design that looked a lot like one we were working on, she'd just say, "it's in the ether," meaning we're all working from the same sources.
I consider knitting a shared language, and I no longer concern myself with reinventing the wheel every time. I love homage, and bricolage and anyone who reads my book will gain a deeper understanding of that. Some designers intentionally avoid looking at other people's work, but I don't. I look at as much as I can, every day. If someone or something inspires a piece, I'll cite my sources. I didn't finish my master's degree, but I kept that habit.
For me, the originality lies in the combination and execution of whatever elements I've gathered. That said, I did reach out to the people who published very similar hats in between the time I knit mine and when the book hit the shelves [Citadel by Beata Jezek, LiftOff by Julie Hart, Blythbourne Hat by Susie Allen] . I sent them messages letting them know and apologizing for any inconvenience it might cause. So far, there have been no issues, and everyone had a wonderful attitude about the unfortunate coincidences.
And, proving my point, our hats all have slight differences! Contrast cast-ons, linings, brim patterns, crown decreases, embellishments, construction--all different. The only thing we really have in common is "hat" and that stitch pattern. There is room for all of us.
P.S. I'll be knitting up a new L'Arbre, too! Find my yarn pick on the Zealana blog.