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Is this ok?

September 24, 2009

I have been wanting for ages now to sell some of my knits, to clear out cupboard space and raise some money for charity, but have been unsure of how to go about it - I want them to get enough exposure so people see them, but don't want to put them on ebay for 1 week!

I decided Etsy might be the best option, but I'm not sure about selling things knitted from published patterns. I'm only selling one of each, and probably at less than the yarn cost, but I'm not sure if I'm allowed to?

I did see English yarns doing the same thing here, which makes me think it's probably ok. But I don't know!

I really want to sell them, as I don't just want to pack loved knits off to the charity shop, and I think I could probably get more money for charity that way. Does anyone know the answer?

Posted by jen at September 24, 2009 04:33 PM


You aren't meant to do it and doing it online means there is more chance of the you being found out by the designer - some will be fine with it but others may get funny with you, who knows how far they can take it - I wouldn't risk it unless it was my own pattern.

I have the same problem so I was going to get a table at a christmas craft fair or something similar when I have enough items to sell. I might even go halves with my aunt who makes cards.

Posted by: Anne-Marie at September 24, 2009 07:11 PM

Strictly speaking I don't think it's kosher, but given that a) you're only selling one of any given item, and b) it's for charity rather than personal gain, I can't imagine that anyone would mind. Maybe you could send the designers (or Rowan) a quick email just to check that there'd be no objection?

Good luck!

Posted by: Heather at September 24, 2009 09:43 PM

it is fine to sell something you made from a pattern , if it is one item that you made for yourself and now no long want.

First off, copyright only technically covers the printed pattern, meaning you cannot make copies of the PRINTED MATERIAL.

Secondly, the prohibition against commercial use has to do with someone taking the pattern and making the item in large quantities for profit. That happens all the time anyway.(not saying it's right, but if some big corporation wants to reproduce your sweater for the larger market they will just take it to a factory in China and do it)

Anyway - if you are worried, you could always try to contact the designers and ask them if they mind. I would think that if they are single items and you are selling them to be green and recycle and donate the money, they should be alright with that.

the law is incredibly confusing - but you do have the right to sell what you have made, even if it is from someone else's pattern.

there is a lot of interesting information on this site

i'm sure many people will claim otherwise, but there is no case law that prohibits you from selling your items. and pattern companies and licensed fabric makers would like you to believe differently. you do have the right.

hope that helps

Posted by: michellenyc at September 24, 2009 10:11 PM

I agree with the 3rd commenter. Plus, I don't think it's morally wrong in any way to sell something that you've made from a pattern, you're clearly not selling hundreds of them at vast profits. I honestly doubt anyone will care. And if they do, they can tell you.

Posted by: theLady at September 24, 2009 10:19 PM

(former lurker here)

I guess you're not on Ravelry? (This question gets asked approximately once a week there.)

Whether you're allowed to do this depends on A the 'right' way to interpret copyright law (we cannot be sure of this until a case goes to court and the judge makes a decision - this hasn't happened yet) and most likely B the copyright statement at the bottom of the pattern.

Most patterns have a copyright statement at the bottom of the pattern, which generally also specifies whether it's 'for personal use only / not for commercial use' or something like that. If it explicitly states 'you're welcome to sell items knit from this pattern', *then* you can be sure. If it doesn't state anything, I imagine the pattern designer would have trouble defending their position that you *weren't* allowed to do it. Finally, even if they say you aren't allowed to do it, the jury is still out on whether it's legal to attach such a condition to a pattern 'sale' (even if it's free).

Mostly, there's no definitive answer, unless you can get permission from the pattern designer (or publisher, if it's a book) him/herself. (This could be in exchange for money.)

(I see no handknits for sale on the English Yarns site; if they do sell them, though, it's possible that they have an agreement with the copyright holder, who also holds the right to *license* it. (It's licensing that's at stake her.))

(I should probably mention that there's another rule governing the sale of handknits: if you knit it first, then decide to sell it later, it's considered sale of a second-hand item and there are no restrictions. I doubt you'd be able to convince people that all you're selling in your Etsy shop is stuff you didn't plan to sell until *after* you'd finished it.)

Hope I'm not raining on your parade too much here; this is a complicated issue though (I should probably advise you to consult an actual lawyer) and selling stuff online isn't the best way to keep under the radar...

Posted by: Mizzle at September 24, 2009 10:26 PM

sorry to disagree - but until there is a case that decides differently - you have every right to sell useful items that you have made from a pattern.

and what is written on the pattern makes not a whit of difference. pattern makers can right all the baloney they want, the law still says that the copyright covers the PRINTED PATTERN and nothing else.

none of those "for personal use" statements have any basis in US law. and cannot be legally enforced.

and i write this as a pattern writer myself. I sell my patterns on Ravelry and have been asked several times for "permission" to sell items made from the pattern. And i tell everyone the same thing - what they do with what they make is theirs to do with as they like. they bought the yarn, they did the work, it's theirs.

what they CANNOT do is make multiple copies of the pattern to give away or sell. that is what the copyright protects. although i'm sure it happens as well.

Posted by: michellenyc at September 24, 2009 11:53 PM

I disagree wholeheartedly with michellenyc. If there is something written on the pattern that says "not to be re-knit for profit", you are obligated -- if only to uphold some unspoken 'knitters morality code' -- to check with the designer of the pattern first before you sell the item. Many knitting patterns, including my own, are given away for free, and one of my very few requests is that people do not sell items made from my patterns.

There is no way to protect myself from the knitter profiting from the work made from the patterns, so the only way to do so is write it on the pattern itself and hope that if someone downloads the pattern, s/he has enough respect for me to honor my wishes. In your case, it is not coming from bad intent, but I would most definitely encourage you to contact the pattern authors first.

Posted by: kate at September 25, 2009 12:36 AM

I have to disagree with Kate - copyright on a pattern protects only the pattern from distribution and resale by those who do not hold the copyright on it. When pattern writers ask knitters not to be making and selling knitwear at a profit using those patterns, there is no basis in law to uphold that.
Also, think of it this way - there is no reason you cannot sell the original pattern you bought after you are done with it - why can't you sell a sweater you made and are finished with? Think about it, that's just silly.

Posted by: theLady at September 25, 2009 07:29 AM

As I understand it you want to have a clear out and sell the items you are clearing out, which means they are second hand.

So I think yes you can sell them.

If you were knitting the items with intent to sell, then you would have to get permission from the copyright holder. Although copyright may only apply to the written pattern, it doesn't mean you automatically have a license to sell items knitted from it.

But in this case you just want a yard sale and are thinking of using Etsy to do so. If you label them as second hand should be ok.

Posted by: Felis at September 25, 2009 08:54 AM

Well that's quite a complicted issue and I'm totally ignorant :)

How about donating the items to an organization that can use them? I donated tons of nice suits and things to the local women's shelter for their clients to have for job interviews/court etc. I just called my local police dept for a contact number. Same idea as selling the items, but a different path.

Posted by: sil at September 25, 2009 05:15 PM

My argument is not that it is "the law", (although I would love it to be) but that I ask the respect of the knitter to honor my wishes by not using a pattern I have provided to them at little (or no) cost to turn around and sell the resultant item for profit. Many other designers do the same.

Knitty's copyright statement is as follows:
"Yes, they're free for your personal, individual use....you may not reformat the pattern for commercial use, and you may not sell them or items made FROM Knitty patterns...."

By using an item made from a pattern for commercial use, one can very easily argue (and many do) that the pattern is an integral part of the item, and therefore protected under the same copyright. The big issue here is that there is no real law protecting designers, and there very clearly should be!

Posted by: kate at September 26, 2009 12:15 AM

Hrm...if you're selling it for less than the value of the yarn, you might be able to call it a de-stash? "Selling X skeins of Y yarn for $Z"

WRT your comment about trust, you could require that a receipt of the charity donation be sent to you BEFORE you ship the garment to the intended recipient. Or create a group on a charity site (some of the micro-loan sites let you do this) and ask the recipients of your handknits to make donations within that group. This would allow you to do SOME tracking.

Posted by: helena at October 6, 2009 09:11 AM