I notice on here quite a lot people coming and saying.. I 'saw' this and want to make it can someone help me figure out how. Technically, doing this breaks copyright yes.
Re the binary scenario. The fact is that if someone, prior to you, has copyright on that pattern then, in the technical eye of the law, you are breaking the copyright by reproducing the pattern (without permission). Now, of course one can arrive at ideas and diagrams without knowing that information is out there and if pressed in a court you can claim ignorance. *However* an analogy is you saying to a police officer.."I did not know that rule or law" and the officer saying..too bad..that isn't my issue..ignorance is not an excuse.
Can I simply suggest two things. If you come up with a design idea or set about to create one, do some research. Google "binary patterns" and "binary knit patterns" and ask around. Keep a record (diary) of attempts to locate if anyone already has a copyright design. If you've made fairly exhaustive attempts then, if legal action is ever threatened, you have an excellent case. Revelry will be an excellent resource for this type of issue I think.
In terms of being 'inspired'. A design is more that the stitches. It is the shape, the way it is put together, the stitches, the seaming and so on. You need to remember this and that changing one aspect or two..does not necessarily alter the fundamental prior design.
We generally know when we see really innovative work because it IS so different. New shapes, new design elements, new patterns and so on.