May 4, 2006

Originality

Metrocnt DunnlorgWhen I first moved to Northern Virginia I was fascinated by Metro. Growing up in New York I just assumed that all trains were filthy. I was accustomed to seeing the rats scurry along the tracks in the subway station. I watched to see what graffiti would adorn the cars of the train as it pulled in. I knew not to touch anything because you never know what nastiness was lurking on and under the surfaces. Then I encountered Metro which seemed clean and (mostly) rat free. For a brief moment I was enthralled.
courthouseSince then I have realized that the neatness comes with a huge price. Metro is frequently “experiencing delays” and the ride is rarely smooth. The stations are free of litter but they are also free of personality. The trains are frequently overcrowded. Last night I had to let 2 trains go by before one pulled into the station with enough room for people to get on. The affair is over! (so is the rant)

After a lousy commute home my night got steadily better. I arrived home last night to find that dinner was nearly ready. We had chicken and green beans and super fresh and yummy corn. I can’t claim that our dinners are always this healthy but every once I a while we get it right.

After dinner we settled in for baths and reading aloud and knitting. It was lovely. Then Felicia called to tell me she cast on. Woo Hoo! She’s been watching me knit (and requesting that I make her stuff) for a while. I didn’t mind at all. Then there was the blog which she reads and discusses with me daily. From my blog she found others and now we discuss the stuff she sees there as well. Now, at last she has cast on herself. She’s coming over to the dark side and I love it.

Stinky sock 3This brings me to some actual knitting content. I worked on the sock last night and I have to say that I’m pleased with it. It's not an especially demanding or unique knit but as I work on it I feel a real sense on satisfaction that is unlike anything before. I think that it’s because I picked all of the elements myself rather than just following a pattern.

That got me wondering - at what point a design becomes “yours”? At what point are you no longer modifying someone else's design and truly creating your own? If you’re taking the stitch pattern from one person and adding it to the basic sock pattern of another is it yours? If you take a heel from one person, a toe from another and a cuff from a third is that yours? How many different way are there to create a sock or a sweater or a scarf? I always worry about originality and I would hate to call something mine only to have it pointed out that it’s been done (possibly better) somewhere before. I’m really interested to hear what you have to say.

3 comments:

margene said...

Maybe you can safely call it a variation on a theme;-)

Elspeth said...

I've heard some percentages before but I've also seen many things that were published as "originals" but were in fact derivative of others that were already published (for example the "Simply Lovely Lace socks" from the latest Interweave look a lot like a pattern that Heartstrings Fiber Arts already published. Technically the pattern isn't exactly the same, so who knows?

I guess I'd call it your own if you created it without consulting another pattern and gave credit to other patterns that you might have gotten ideas from (or stitch books). I get the feeling a lot of knit designers own "all" the stitch books and just pick what works for them. After all, it's all just knits and purls, right?

Elspeth said...

P.S. I've always loved the Metro too. I was in D.C. when it opened (I believe) and have loved it ever since. It has a nice easy to follow map/line (versus New York's subway), especially if you are going somewhere a lot of people go. Of course it is more helpful to you in Virginia. My parents live in Maryland and it's not as convenient there, but still nice to have!