A Bit Frosty this January

1shinecirclesquilt

Remember this?

Shine_Quilt Top Final800

And this?

This is Shine: The Circles Quilt, and I started it as a English Paper Piecing project, putting the free patterns up on this blog, beginning in 2014.  I also have a page dedicated to these blocks, giving out the patterns and tutorials for each, until the last four (which used to live on Craftsy, but that’s another blog post.  Coming soon.)

And then this new year, I opened up mail from one of my heros, Becky Goldsmith to see this:

Goldsmith Circles1.jpg

and this:

Goldsmith Circles2.jpg

all advertising her newest endeavor.

As near as I can tell, she has no idea I exist.  She is not copying me.  She has fancy borders, and has done the quilt twice.  I think this is a classic example of what the German’s call “der Zeitgeist” or “the trend of thought and feeling in a period.

But I am a bit frosty about this, for one reason only: she has a megaphone, and I have only this blog.  I used to have a blog and a Craftsy site (!), but I guess I also have Instagram, which might have a zillion followers if I unblocked all those creepy men or Quilt-Content-Thieves.  But is it really “frosty” or is it more that I’m jealous?  I think the latter. 

I still have my Shine patterns here, but really, I have to yield the selling floor to the firepower of Piece O’Cake Designs, in making a quilt with a grid of paper-pieced circles based on the traditional style of a compass rose.  I don’t have her readership, her TV show appearances, her mailing list.  She’s a tsunami.  I’m a wobbly sprinkler on the back lawn.  To be truthful, Goldsmith earned her tsunami status through hard work over many years; again, she did NOT copy me at all. I have all of her books, and have made a couple of her designs, so you do have to put me in the category of Total Admirer.  But that’s not the issue here.

My takeaway: when quilters come up with designs similar to one another, it’s not always a copyright issue, which is the usual scream that emmanates from the collective online voice.  Sometimes it just is the Zeitgeist.

Sometimes the Sew Together Bag is merely a copy of her grandfather’s toiletries kit (this fact mentioned to me while we were standing in line together at Market in Salt Lake City), and my Mini-Sew Together Bag was a version I was working on when I didn’t like the bulk of the original, and my Smile Bag came before byAnnie’s Clam Up bag and perhaps we were both inspired by the bag for the First Class United Airlines customers, and perhaps they were inspired by some ancient Japanese zakka.  That’s how these things go.

Scream

Edvard Munch’s The Scream

 

 

 

Okay, I feel better now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Updates to original post are in black text.

21 thoughts on “A Bit Frosty this January

  1. Yours were first and I actually completed the quilt top using your patterns. Thanks for your expert help with this new-to-me piecing. I will not be doing Becky’s quilt patterns.
    On to something new or finishing half completed projects. Thanks again for sharing your expertise.

    • Please do consider using Becky’s patterns. I have all of her books, and made a couple of her designs and they are some of my favorite quilts. She is a very talented lady and I’m glad she is in our quilty universe. Don’t let my wee bit of jealousy of her platform hold you back!

  2. Ugggh! So sorry to hear. To use another German word it ooks like your doppelgänger, just two steps behind you. Also-you really don’t want those creeper men following you either. It’s not worth it.

  3. Yes. I’m so sorry and might know exactly how you feel. 😦 My medallion quilt book project was such a fine idea, it was turned down for publication (with compliments! from multiple publishers!), and since then there have been very similar ideas brought forth by others with megaphones. And now there is no air for mine to breath. It is dead, suffocated under the weight… HA very dramatic, huh? I’m okay with it, if somewhat disappointed still. Anyway, I get it. Fortunately you are a creative and talented woman and can move on to the next thing, which might lead you to fame and fortune, if only you unblock all those creepy men and photo-scrapers in IG.

  4. Hi Elizabeth,
    A friend sent me a link to your post because you are right, I am unfamiliar with your blog and pattern. I’m sorry your are frosty, but I can understand the feeling. Let me explain…

    I have been a quilt designer, author, and teacher full time for 26 years. Over the course of those years I’ve written more than 30 books and designed hundreds of stand-alone patterns. The techniques I’ve used include applique, piecing, foundation paper piecing, EPPing, and more. (I announced a new hand sewing project, just a few days ago that includes EPPed star blocks. They aren’t round, but there is a definite relationship to my Sizzle blocks.)

    It is not surprising that when I look at new books and patterns, I often find quilts similar to ones I’ve made. I assume that those designers are as unaware of my quilts as I was of yours because it is true that art works this way. More than one person can design something all on their own that turns out to be similar to what another person has made, also on their own. The more I look at old tile work, the more I realize that it is really hard to make something geometric that is absolutely new.

    Truthfully, I don’t think of myself as having a megaphone. I work at home, by myself, 90% of the time so I have no idea who, if anyone, is listening to me at any given time. Any voice I have in the quilt world is there because this really has been my full time job for most of my adult life. I work hard to write good instructions, to be a kind and friendly teacher, and to make quilts that make people smile. There are lots of others just like me out there, each with their own voice, and you are one of those voices.

    Your quilt is lovely and you are very generous to offer it for free. I do hope that you have many happy stitches, now and into the future.

    • NOTE: I rarely make public my reply letters, but thought my reply to Becky Goldsmith belonged here. I also sent it to her directly.
      ***********************************************

      Hi Becky– Oh, my! What a wonderful letter you wrote me.

      Like I said in my post, you are my hero. I have all of your books, have made quilts in a couple of your designs, and you serve as inspiration to me in so many ways. (In fact, I’m always trying to figure out how you have energy to do all those home improvement projects as well as sew prolifically.). You have also been a great inspiration to so many of us, and I am sorry if my blog post seemed to be too cranky.

      I was just trying to say, it’s just in the zeitgeist: there wasn’t any copyright issue.

      What surprised me was how quickly people went to the old model of defend-and-decry, which is not what I intended at all. I think my title, which I was trying to play on the idea of January’s frost in some parts of the country, failed; but, if people read the post, I’m had hoped they’d take away the idea that creative ideas occur independently and are available to all. I’m not jealous of your talents (merely admiring), it’s that I was a wee bit jealous of your *platform*, which you built steadily, carefully, through hours and hours of hard work. I think with the demise of the Craftsy sitution, which has ramifications far beyond losing the ability to market PDF patterns, many of us are keenly aware of how little ability we have to get our ideas out onto the marketplace. This did not originate with the quilting world, but has recently come to impact us in a more concrete way.

      I’m thrilled that someone else has found the compass rose pattern inspiring, and wish you all success. I’m hopeful I didn’t offend you, and apologize if I did.

      Keep up the good work, in all your endeavors!

      Elizabeth

      • OK, this cracks me up because I almost never reply to a reply to a comment. Just so you and everyone reading knows, I never did take offense and I do know exactly what you mean, all the way around. Online communication can be wonderful but sometimes not being in person does make it harder catch the subtleties.

        I remember being an unknown person in the quilt world. Then, as now, it takes a whole lot of work and persistence to finally get noticed on a larger scale. Linda and I had a booth in every quilt market when we were self-publishing (8 years!) and after we joined C&T we attended any market in which we had a new book or fabric line. We didn’t pay ourselves for a long time. I have friends who are better set for retirement because they had ‘real’ jobs with benefits but there you go. I do truly love what I do and it is nice to be your own boss :-).

        OK, back to work now. Have a lovely day!

  5. If it makes you feel better, I prefer your round, wheel feel to spiky stars. Your blocks and quilts remind me of a fun day at the fair.

  6. I have not done paper piecing yet, but if I did, I think I would want to make both quilts, and/or blend features from both into one quilt — like perhaps, your crosses in between the circles, with Becky’s fancy borders. The two quilts have very different but complementary features.
    Okay, now I’m off to check your pattern page and download the instructions for that wonderful day when I move on to paper piecing! 🙂

  7. Elizabeth oh how I understand your struggle! For me it is watching all my wonderful journalism friends continue to outwardly succeed, going on to join the LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, etc. I too feel that jealousy of knowing they deserve the rewards for their hard work but also knowing that chance sometimes doesn’t work in my own favor. I couldn’t hack the demands (long hours, low pay, everyone hates you — inside and outside the newsroom when you become a manager) and decided having time with my family was more important (although there is personal struggle there, too). But then I find out that my friends are facing the same issues I had and I feel a little comfort knowing it’s not just me.

  8. I have several of Becky’s books, and have followed her for a while, also. However, I think your Circles quilt is much more complex and interesting, than her BOM quilt.

  9. What an interesting exchange between you and Becky! Thank you for making it public. I do think us maker-types have convergent concepts more often than we realize. I sure enjoyed reading this post, and “got” the play on “frosty.” Initially I thought, “Oh my! Elizabeth has had really cold weather in California!” 🙂 And I’m thrilled to know that “creepy men” are just as attracted to you as they are to me! LOL Block-away, girlfriend! That’s what I’m doing too. And keep writing. I really enjoy your wit and witticisms.

  10. You are moving in this direction, Elizabeth! You are teaching, you have a connection with a fabric company, and you write lots of patterns. True, you aren’t calling on me to help you vend at Quilt Market, but maybe if you quit traveling around the world with your wonderful husband (nope, not jealous at all. Liar, liar, pants on fire). Seriously, you know I have been an admirer of yours for a long time, and I am thrilled that you considered me worthy of one of your quilts! Some of the first discussions we had were around that Sew Together Bag and whether someone was copying the design.

  11. I feel you. A “big name quilter” once commented in my hearing that the quilt industry is as cut-throat as any other, and I’m sure that’s true. I try to release what I do into the world and let it go, but then I’m not depending on it for income!

  12. Such beautiful quilts. It’s actually kind of fun for me, an outsider, to see the similarities between the two patterns, but also the differences and how they affect the overall look of the quilts.

  13. I stumbled across a photo of one of your circle blocks while surfing the internet some time ago, and it led me to your blog. I am so happy it did, because I so enjoy your posts and all you share.

  14. How often have we discussed this? It’s understandable that people will come up with similar designs – completely unaware of each other’s work.

  15. I am normally a lurker, but I do have to comment….both you and Becky are showing such class! This does happen when creative minds think alike! I do remember when you published your pattern and I hope to make it some day…I have it saved somewhere…what I didn’t like, a couple of years ago, was when a fabric designer (who I won’t name) filed a law suite and tried to get anyone who used her fabric in one of their books had to credit her…can you imagine the nightmare this would cause for those of us who like scrappy??? I haven’t bought any of her fabric since…I thought it was mean spirited and totally unreasonable. I so admire that you wrote this and even more that Becky wrote such a classy response. I love it when people are kind…not much of that on social media these days! I subscribe to TQS so hope to make Becky’s pattern, too, but I can appreciate both…and yes, yours was first and was cutting edge at the time! Thank you for taking the high road!

  16. I’ve been pondering your post for awhile. I’m glad you both shared the communication that went on regarding this. I commend you both for not getting all snitty. There’s enough of that online already. I do feel your angst about having an idea, executing it and then seeing something similar come along by someone more ‘famous’. It happened to me to not so long go too. SimiIarly, I can’t tell you how many ideas I’ve had that I didn’t pursue only to see them pop up later and often by someone well known. When that happens it kind of squashes my motivation for going ahead with it. It just doesn’t feel original and mine anymore. I do agree there are ideas in the air, and it’s quite possible for more than one person to create them. I know you will keep creating and sharing and I look forward to what comes next.

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