On hurts and disappointment

2012_038Disappointment: the feeling of dissatisfaction that follows the failure of expectations or hopes to manifest. Similar to regret, it differs in that a person feeling regret focuses primarily on the personal choices that contributed to a poor outcome, while a person feeling disappointment focuses on the outcome itself.*

As I ponder the ups and downs of these last eleven years, I can honestly say there has only been one “major” disappointment: not being able to contribute significantly to the Spanish-speaking quilting world. And not for lack of trying, but basically because all that trying actually wore me out.

For over two years we ran a subscription site in Spanish with the exact same content as what we offered in English. And we included a lot of free content, particularly tutorials. Which we would then find on other websites: entire tutorials copied and offered as their own. And in some cases, with graphics hot-linked to our website, which meant our bandwidth was also being stolen. And patterns. With users freely “sharing” the bounty.

2014-189I tried to be patient, as I felt part of my “calling” was to help educate these users. I figured that establishing a personal relationship would help. And it did, in part. But the copyright violations simply did not cease, and working on this website started to feel like a drag. One day, a visitor signed up for the usual yearly subscription to our website, and actually took the time to download every single pattern we offered in one sitting. She then proceeded to file a charge-back, and the payment was returned to her. Hard to believe, right? And then it happened a second time. I felt devastated. In addition, although we had a considerable number of visitors, the main interest was in freebies, and the number of paying subscribers simply was not enough to cover the costs involved in running this website. So we decided to close it down.

Amazingly, most of our Spanish-speaking subscribers actually followed us over to the English website. Several of them are still with us today.  That is what I hang on to. That is what I treasure. And I feel for them, because I know they often have to make a huge effort to deal with the language challenge. (Gracias… ¡las quiero mucho!)

2014-190I decided my Spanish language quilting endeavors would have to focus on what I would be able to do locally. Fortunately, that has been a different story. And yes, there have been occasions when someone has offered to share a pattern… under my very own nose! I attribute this to a lack of information. Copyright violations are actually quite common in our countries. However, establishing a personal relationship does make a difference, and the advantage I have had while teaching is that there has been the opportunity to discuss the issue, and explain my point of view. So no complaints there.

2014-191Then a couple of years ago one of my Spanish followers warned me about a blogger who was organizing a stitch-along on her blog, using my Life’s a Hoot pattern. I didn’t initially think it was anything serious… until I read her post. She had purchased the pattern from an authorized distributor, and was offering to send the file to a list of over 900 people who had signed up for the stitch-along. What was even worse, she was also selling the pattern as a digital download in her online shop… for an even higher price than I myself charge!

I wrote this woman several times, requesting she desist from using my pattern for her stitch-along, and offering her another free one instead. I also asked her to take the pattern down from her shop. No answer. Jared and I discussed the matter, and finally decided this was one case that we just couldn’t ignore. So I ended up hiring legal counsel in Madrid to help with the matter. A formal cease and desist letter was sent. Counsel also advised that under both the CAN-SPAM Act and the EU Directive I could take screenshots of the posts where this blogger offered the pattern (including my graphics), to legally harvest the e-mail addresses of the eventual recipients of the pattern and to use them as proof if the issue were to escalate to a suit. I sent out a one-time non-commercial e-mail to the list (what is known as a transactional or relationship e-mail, in case you ever find yourself in this position), explaining that the stitch-along they were going to participate in involved the use of a pattern of mine that the organizer was not authorized to use in this way.

The legal notice worked. The blogger took down the pattern from her shop, and deleted all posts related to the stitch along. Except for one, where she announced that she was canceling it because “the designer does not wish to share her pattern.” Comments on this post of hers were as varied as the responses I received. (And eventually she deleted that post, too).

2014-192Some people flamed me. Some were seriously mad at me. Many called me selfish, and told me the spirit of quilting was to share. In one of the worst messages, one woman told me quilting was such an expensive hobby, where fabrics and quilting materials are costly, and how her country had been facing a terrible economic crisis that made practicing this hobby practically impossible. At the very least, quilters should be able to enjoy free patterns. I held back as much as I could, and limited myself to suggest that perhaps she could go to her quilting shop and request they give her the fabrics and materials she needed for free.

Admittedly, this is the absolutely worst situation I have had to face in these eleven years. And I still need to remind myself that these awful messages were but a drop in the bucket, compared to all the positive messages I also received. The point here… is the hurt. I struggled not to take it personally. But yes… these things hurt.

It happens in the English-speaking world, too. I know… shocking, isn’t it, that quilters are actually human and thus apt to be mean sometimes? And no, it doesn’t happen that often. Perhaps that is why, when it does happen, it comes as a shock. I tell myself it’s not about me, but the person is having a bad day and most probably would never say some of these things if we were talking face to face. I will admit, though, that I find it very, very hard to deal with aggressive messages. It feels like a punch in the stomach.

2014-193I tell myself I am a grownup, and there is something to learn from these experiences. Ah, yes… some call it the Golden Rule. I remember hearing this a lot when I was growing up… not so much lately. I wonder why that is. Could it be that in this Age of the Internet, relationships have become so completely anonymous we forget there is an actual person on the other side? If we could see him or her, would we actually talk that way? So instead of feeling hurt, I strive to experience these moments as valuable lessons. May I remember how it feels, and be compassionate in the way I myself deal with others.

And may I never forget you, my kind and gentle followers. May I always treasure and celebrate your encouraging and uplifting words. Thank you.


P.S. Jokes make me happy, too! 🙂


*From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This entry was posted in This and that. |Comments closed


  1. Posted May 22, 2014 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    I truly do not understand how some people think others owe them a living so to speak. I’m so glad you were successful in getting her to remove the stolen property.

    Hang in there! We love all your work.

  2. Posted May 23, 2014 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    I am not that familiar with the copyright laws but it would never occur to me to use someone else’s design to sell as my own or to teach as a class.
    And I think you are right about the Internet, it has sort of ruined the thought pattern of being kind or thinking before you speak.
    I hope whoever reads your post will start to understand the effort the designer puts into his/her work and that sharing that work with us quilters via purchasing the design is a wonderful way to share….I hope I made sense……in other words…..just buy the pattern everyone!!

  3. Pam
    Posted May 23, 2014 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Angie, thank you so much for sharing your quilting life and creativity with us. Paying an annual membership and purchasing patterns from your store are the best we can do to support you. There are always a few less than pleasant apples in the barrel; the rest of us applaud you and your efforts. Some just do not understand that sharing an embroidery design CD or a restricted pattern download by a designer is the same as theft.

  4. Posted May 23, 2014 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    I see this all the time and it is really a shame. I have found sites in other countries that take designs and put them out for others to use. I have had one of my designs taken, then redone and they thought that was ok too. I have even seen it in shops where the owner takes a design and copies it for a class. I wonder if that lady would do her job for free and just give away her services;)


  5. Mónica Viteri
    Posted June 6, 2014 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Los derechos de autoría están siendo reconocidos recientemente en algunos países (entre ellos el Ecuador). Quienes conocemos tu trabajo, tu creatividad y tu esfuerzo por difundir esta forma artesanal promovemos entre nuestras amigas y relaciones la importancia del respeto hacia los patrones, diseños, etc.
    Una querida amiga trabaja en cerámica y lo hace primorosamente. Alguien le pidió sus diseños para trabajarlos en serie y venderlos en una tienda famosa. ¡Tuve que convencerle a mi amiga para que registre sus creaciones en el IEPI!
    Es insólito que nosotras mismas no valoremos nuestro talento y nuestra creatividad. Adelante, Angie, respaldamos tu labor y en el reverso de los tapices de tu autoría, bordamos tu nombre.

  6. Irene
    Posted June 18, 2014 at 12:06 am | Permalink

    Recuerdo que me comentaste sobre tu frustración al abrir una página en español, hace años, y en un e-mail me contaste los problemas que habías tenido con la copia de patrones. Lamento que te haya sucedido nuevamente, en este segundo intento de poner una bonita página de quilting para las personas hispano parlantes. Pero lo inconcebible es que alguna de esas personas haya, incluso, llegado al colmo de insultar y llamar egoísta a quien está compartiendo su talento, aportando muchas ideas gratuitas como muestra, pero otras, desde luego, cobrando su justo valor.
    En mi país es muy común la copia ilegal de patrones, las amigas piden que uno les preste revistas o patrones para fotocopiarlos, y se enojan cuando uno se niega. Yo hablo mucho a mis amigas y a mis alumnas sobre el respeto a la creatividad de otra persona, y las insto a no copiar, sino hacer sus propios diseños. O les doy la dirección de la página donde lo encontré, para que lo busquen y compren por su cuenta. Y cuando usan uno gratuito y lo publican, que mencionen la fuente, colocar el enlace al patrón original. No cuesta nada, y es lo que nosotras quisiéramos que hicieran con nuestras creaciones al publicarlas.
    También he encontrado que la mayoría de páginas en español, no publican patrones interesantes, originales o de calidad, así que me he obligado a mí misma a seguir las páginas de diseños en inglés, donde se encuentra una increíble y extensa variedad por una módica suscripción anual.
    Bono obtenido: en los 8 años que llevo practicando este hobby, he perfeccionado notablemente mi dominio del Inglés. Ahora tengo cyber-amigas en todo el mundo, y me he dado cuenta que aún con nuestras diferentes culturas, todas somos seres humanos muy similares, con problemas, éxitos, sueños, familias, mascotas… y todas merecemos el mismo respeto.
    Animo, ¡y a no tropezar de nuevo con la misma piedra, amiga!