Ask Madelyn: Can You Sell a Project from Handwoven?

Thank you for considering my question! I am a relatively new weaver (been at it for about two years). Of course, I never have enough time to weave like I want to. I am thinking about doing items that I could sell and make some extra income. I searched the web about selling items and came across one of your posts about items that are woven from Handwoven magazine projects.

“If a weaver uses the instructions in a magazine (or any copyrighted printed matter) to make an item (number of threads, draft, yarns, colors, sett, finishing methods, etc.),  it is a copyright violation to sell the item or to enter it in a show of original work. The written instructions are copyright protected, not the actual item. Simply changing a color or a yarn would probably not be regarded as enough of a change to avoid violation.”

So, I’m thinking that it really is not possible to sell anything that I make, since all of my projects would come from patterns that I see in Handwoven magazine, eBooks that I’ve downloaded, or from other books, such as A Weaver’s Book of 8-Shaft Patterns.

How would a weaver make an income if everything is copyrighted?

Thank you,

Hi Paul!

Madelyn shares how to avoid copyright violations when selling handwoven items. Some pattern books, like this one, can be used to create pieces for sale, while others cannot.

A Weaver’s Book of 8-Shaft Patterns by Carol Stricker is a great resource for those selling handwoven items.

This is an age-old question that merits revisiting now and then. The drafts that appear in Marguerite Davison’s A Handweaver’s Pattern Book and Carol Strickler’s A Weaver’s Book of 8-Shaft Patterns are fine for you to use for items that you sell. To use them, you will be choosing your own materials, colors, setts, numbers of threads, etc. Most of these drafts appear in many places and could be considered part of the public domain. It is, however, a violation to follow the exact written instructions in a Handwoven project to make something that looks just like the piece in the photo and then sell it or enter it in a juried show. Juried shows intend for work to be original. (I have had the experience of seeing an item receive first place in a juried show that had been a Handwoven project. It turned out the weaver thought the piece was juried for craftsmanship, not originality. Juried shows always mean for the work to be original.)

This doesn’t mean that you can’t use drafts that are in Handwoven for original work. What you can’t do is follow the instructions exactly as given for the yarns, warp and weft color order, length, number of threads, etc., and then sell a piece as yours that looks just like the photographed project in the magazine. There is obviously a gray area here in terms of how much needs to be different to avoid a copyright violation. If you change one element simply so you can say that you didn’t use the instructions, you would know that you have violated copyright. If you try a project in Handwoven and from weaving it learn a lot about the yarns, color interaction, and the weave structure, and then continue exploring on your own to come up with something that the project only inspired, you are not violating weaving copyright. You are the one who really knows if the work is yours.

I hope this helps!

Posted March 29, 2016. Updated February 16, 2018.

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  1. Marcia M at 3:01 pm March 27, 2017

    I have a question for Madelyn. I dressed my loom for Swedish Lace using the Handweaver’s Pattern Book on page 191, but it isn’t coming out like the picture. I am wondering if there is an error and I think it has to do with the repeat 5 beginning and ending on the first shaft. Is this an error and what should it be?

    • Sue H at 6:26 am November 30, 2017

      Dear Marcia, I just encountered the exact problem on the same draft you’re using. YES there is an error…..easy fix- kick the last thread (1) out of the bracket. So move the parenthesis one thread to the right. Not so easy if you’ve already begun your project. But the piece is so stunning woven correctly that it’s worth the effort to rethread. I’m weaving about four years now and this issue wasn’t immediately a red flag for me, but with some research and advice from online weavers, I was able to dodge the problem. I’ve notified Interweave errata dept. because I cannot find any link to errata for this book. There’s a site, but it’s not working, plus they call the book The Handweavers Pattern DICTIONARY, not Directory. Hope they solve this! Good luck!

    • Sue H at 2:56 pm November 30, 2017

      Yes, it should be listed on the errata page for this book. The repeated sequence should be 141412 (x5) NOT 1414121. Treat that last “1” like it isn’t in the parenthesis.

  2. Jeannine M at 9:48 pm April 10, 2017

    Madelyn – I have searched and searched all over the internet to locate a draft for “Double Dimity”. I fell in love with a scarf shorn for sale but cannot find and info other than the name of the structure. Can you “tell me where to go”?

    I will be ever so thankful. I am an avid reader of Handwoven and cherish your learned advice. If anyone can offer information about this structure I know it will be you. – Jeannine

  3. Judy T at 3:34 pm May 24, 2017


    I’ve been weaving about 4 years on multi-harness floor looms, and warping has always been my nemesis. I bought your DVD, and it helped soooooooo much. Thank you! One thing I have tried the last three times I’ve warped my loom, and with not much success is the transferring the cross from one side of the reed to the other. I’ve got the choke tie firmly lashed to the breast beam, but with the lease sticks, pick up stick and holding the unthreaded warp, I seem to be missing a couple of hands. Any suggestions?



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