On Credit for “Original” Designs

I wanted to follow up on a conversation that happened in a Facebook group earlier today about giving credit to the “original” creator of a design.

For the record, Piglet and I didn’t invent the pattern discussed in that case, and we don’t own it. If you weave potholders that look like that, you aren’t obligated to mention us or give us any credit.

People have been weaving things out of string for thousands of years, and they have been weaving potholders out of stretchy loops for nearly a hundred years. Given that history, I think it’s very likely that every technique we’ve explored has been tried before, and I am confident that if you could somehow go through all of the millions of potholders that have been woven over the last century, you would be able to find earlier examples that look a lot like nearly every design we’ve posted.

And even in the few cases where I’m confident a particular design was never woven by anyone before us, those creations couldn’t exist without all of the earlier work that came before them — we stand on the shoulders of giants.

Our charts are the result of mashing together lots of ideas from multiple sources — including everything from thousand-year-old textile fragments, to nineteenth-century pattern books, to pictures that were just posted to the web a few days ago — and working through variations to find combinations that seem to work well, then putting the results online so that other people can elaborate on them further.

We explicitly urge people to treat these techniques — weaving structures, threading patterns, color schemes, and all the rest — as part of a shared human culture that is open for use by everyone.

That said, we do love seeing pictures of all the lovely work that we’ve had some small part in helping people to create, and shout-outs are always welcome, so please do continue to post photos of your potholders and everything else you make, and feel free to tag Piglet and I any time you’d like — but that’s always completely optional, and you don’t owe us anything.

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