Have you read the first part of the interview? Hilda allowed us a glimpse into her world living with Asperger's. You can catch up here.
Hilda Steyn needs no introduction - whether you came across her (now retired) Yarn in a Barn store or crossed swords over the sharing of patterns without crediting the designer! In her Ravelry store her shawl designs are easy to master and her Ready, Steady, Ripple blanket design is still on my to-do list - all free of charge!
In this part of the interview I ask Hilda more about her decision to republish her patterns without copyright. Without copyright?! Without copyright.
Helène: You have zero tolerance for copyright infringers. You even went so far as to put it into writing on your blog (http://www.ilonaslowlifecreations.co.za/tutorial/copyright-made-simple/). Recently, you re-published all your patterns copyright free. For me it was a sad day and somehow I felt that evil managed to overcome good. Did you feel the same? What motivated this decision and what are you hoping to achieve by this?
Hilda: Evil didn’t win. Good decided to make evil work for a change. When my patterns had copyright on, I got extremely angry whenever I saw an infringement of my copyright. I was policing various Facebook groups, notoriously known for their copyright infringement. To tell the truth, it stole my joy. Designing wasn’t fun anymore. I prayed about it and God said I received freely, and I should give freely. So I removed the copyright. Now, those who love to steal, can do my marketing for me, and take my name into all the groups I don’t want to belong to.
Helène: Inspiration is all around us. We spend countless hours on Facebook groups, Instagram and Pinterest and look at what other makers are doing and those images are filed in our memories. Then one day you design and subsequently publish a pattern that for all intents and purposes are your original work but actually, unintentionally, originated from something you saw/read months or years ago. How do you as a designer safeguard yourself from infringing copyright?
Hilda: What you described, actually happened to me. I designed a shawl, and I got a very angry email from another designer whom I didn’t know existed. Somebody saw my design, and saw that in a way, it was similar to hers. She insisted that I withdrew my design, which I did. I would rather forfeit a design than being accused of pattern theft. I used to go to Ravelry, to search and make sure there isn’t a similar item to the picture in my head, but lately, I don’t do it anymore. I design from a picture in my head. Knowing that, is enough for me. As long as my conscience is clean, I am happy. If the same thing happens again, I will just ditch the pattern again. No big deal really.
Helène: Up to a few months or so ago you owned a yarn store that only stocked natural fibres. There exist very divided opinions on the use of acrylic yarn verses natural fibre yarn. Apart from the negative environmental impact, acrylic yarn do have a number of plus points (cost effective, easy to launder, no lot number colour differences, moth resistant and widely available). Can you remember the exact moment when you made up your mind to never again work with acrylic yarn?
It wasn’t a moment. I think it was a process. The more I read and researched, the less I wanted to touch acrylic. The last straw was when I broke out in a rash all over my forearms while working with one of the local acrylic brands. I made my mind up to never touch it again. With the knowledge I have now, after four years in the yarn industry, I won’t ever go back on that decision either. I am so much in love with natural fibres. And I am a spoiled brat. I love fibres that isn’t readily available in South Africa. I have a special stash that contains mink, cashmere, possum, pure mulberry silk, camel and then some more. How can I ever go back to scratchy acrylic that causes cancer? Nope. Not me.
Helène: Natural fibre yarn is expensive. Not only is it human labour intensive, the source of it is finite. The water crisis in South Africa has forced many of us to cut back on our water use and be creative in ways to reuse it. As a casual dyer yourself, do you think this will impact the South African Indie dyers in the long run?
I don’t see myself as a casual dyer. I did the colour workshops just for the fun of it. I hate getting my hands dirty. I can’t stand it. The dying drove me nuts! I ended up with ‘variegated hands’ after each one, regardless of how hard I tried to keep my hands clean! I hope our current water crisis will be resolved before it starts to seriously impact the yarn industry. That would really be a bummer. But I also think it is time that each crafter seriously considers how he/she is impacting the environment through craft. I became very mindful of my yarn waste. I no longer throw it away – birds get their feet tangled in it. I now mix it with a little bit of oil or paraffin in; we use it for fire lighters. I don’t have to buy Blitz anymore. Unfortunately, many yarn snobs like me, scream about the effect of acrylic on the environment, yet they don’t change their own ways to improve life on our planet. If you don’t want to crochet or knit with acrylic yarn due to it being plastic, you can’t keep buying plastic bottles and use plastic straws. If you want to stick your head out and say something, you have to walk the walk and talk the talk. It is in the best interest of the entire world, that ALL of us, should take inventory of our actions and decide on a better way forward.
As far as the price of natural fibres go – yes, it is expensive. But I would rather have one, classic, high quality, natural fibre cardigan in my closet, than 5 cheap acrylic cardigans. Slow living is also mindful living. I don’t have much clothes. Heck, you can only wear one set at a time! We tend to buy too much, and live as if life is infinite. It isn’t. All of us should slow down and think about our actions.
During the third and final part of the interview Hilda and I talk about the successful Wacky Weave Interlocking Crochet-a-long that she hosted and that recently came to an end. Hopefully I will be able to show you my completed Wacky Weave blanket!
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Until next time.
But wait! There's more!
We have a wonderful giveaway for the yarn obsessed!
The giveaway includes:
*12 50g balls of 4ply 100% Merino Wool Superwash dk (4 Lemon, 4 Peach, 4 Dusky Pink),
*1 LJ Craft Creations wooden hand crafted shawl pin,
*1 Brilliantmommy tote bag, and
*Free delivery to an ordinary address in South Africa
Total value of this giveaway is R1 260!
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