July 27, 2001
Several friends and I were speaking with a mutual acquaintance one day several years ago. She had taken a quilting class, and was a little dismayed that some of the students in said class didn't want to be bothered with learning any rules. Her classmates said that learning the rules would stifle their creativity. My comment at the time was that people who thought it always impossible to find creativity (and individuality) inside structure needed to remember J.S. Bach.
Part of how we got onto that topic was the acquaintance had seen a small piece of cross stitch that I had made. It was a fairly complex pattern, based on a doodle I had done a long time ago. Even though I followed my own urge in terms of the design elements and the size of the piece, I had followed the basic structure and rules of cross-stitch.
It is possible to both follow the rules and be creative inside them. And it is possible to use someone else's pattern to make something quite attractive. There is always room to be creative. For me, part of the attraction of looking at work someone else has done while following a pattern is to see what the maker has done with the pattern. If's fine by me if the person has followed the pattern down to the last detail. It's also fine with me if the person has come up with variations. But having the basic pattern allows one to know things like amount of supplies needed, and what general size the finished item should be.
In crochet, I sell only my original designs. But far more of what I've made in my lifetime has been a variation on someone else's pattern...which means the finished item is not mine to sell, but is mine to enjoy for my personal use, since those were the terms under which I acquired the patterns. The afghan that is on my bed right now has only minor variations---I used a different edging. But I really liked that pattern stitch someone came up with, when I made it in yarn. I decided I wanted to see it in crochet cotton as a vest. It's lovely, if I do say so myself. And that I did not invent the pattern stitch does not take away from my having been creative in its use. On the flip side, the afghan that's in my living room is based on a filet crochet pattern originally done in crochet cotton. I wanted to see what it would look like in yarn. Again, my creativity was in the changing, though not in the pattern itself.
Where things online are concerned, I don't have a bit of trouble appreciating people using available-for-public-use templates for journal sites, or using weblogging software. Their creativity is expressed in the writing. If someone's choice of template means that person's journal looks remarkably similar to someone else's which uses the same available-for-public-use template, so be it. Even within the confines of templates, if you want something changed, you can usually change it. But if for whatever reason you don't change things, that's fine. As long as you don't copy someone else's writing, of course!
For those who would insist that it isn't good enough unless the maker is also creator of the structure being used, in whatever the medium, my comment is swift and blunt: bullshit.