On charging for previously free patterns

Tuesday, April 15, 2008
It has now been a week since MagKnits died (or whatever you want to call it). It's been really interesting to watch the threads over on Ravelry talking about bad experiences people had with HipKnits and/or one of the other related businesses - apparently I was lucky to be paid at all for my patterns in the magazine last year! And even so, they were late, I had to harass the editor a fair amount, the patterns didn't come out when I thought they were going to, and the payment was less than I had expected. Sigh.

So starting last Tuesday all of us designers with patterns in MagKnits were suddenly faced with hordes of people wanting our patterns RIGHT THEN. I feel bad for Grumperina, who apparently had oodles of PMs and emails wanting Jaywalkers ASAP. Some people discovered the Wayback Machine and Google caching, which at least got them the instructions but no photos. I'm really impressed at how quickly people got decent PDF versions of their patterns posted to Ravelry shops.

And then began the debate over free vs. paid patterns. While many of the designers decided to put up their patterns for free - feeling that they were always available that way, and most of them had been paid - others (including me) decided to do extra work on the patterns, actually tech edit them, and then charge. My Skirtsicle pattern is now up for $4, and Reduce Reuse Recycle will also be $4 once I get it done.

Here's why:

1: Those who were literally in the middle of working on either project could have gotten the instructions for free either from Google cache or the Wayback Machine. Or, you could have been a responsible knitter (no judgments passed) and printed out the pattern to refer to all along.

2: The patterns have been completely rewritten. I spent about six hours redoing Skirtsicle, including adding two new waistband modifications, adding in new photos, new notes and abbreviations, and editing the whole thing. RRR is taking longer because I'm including a tutorial on cutting up the bags (two different ways) and joining them together (four different ways). For this I would like to be compensated, thankyouverymuch.

3: For April, I'm donating $3 from each pattern sold to Ravelry. Without Ravelry it would have taken a long time for me to know that MagKnits had gone down, not to mention the rest of you. By the time I'd found out the cache would have expired and there would have been fewer ways to get to the basic instructions. Plus, Ravelry is a prime example of a great knitting community that WORKS - people tend to be civil, there's a phenomenal amount of info available, I have a store (!), and it's all done by three people. So far I've raised $15, and hope to at least double that by the end of the month.

So please, don't leave me anonymous snarky comments. I recognize that people always prefer free over paid, I really do. But I have my reasons for doing what I do. I hope you recognize that designing is work, often hard and frustrating work, and has value above and beyond the glow I get when I see that someone has made my pattern and loves it.

In other news, I am nearly done with a scarf (in 2nd Chance Cotton) and baby blanket (with three size variations) that should be up for sale by the end of the month. They'll be $4 each too!


  • hannah

    KT, I support you entirely. As a designer you are entitled to make a living from your work, just like the rest of us do. Anne Modesitt had an excellent interview on a recent Cast On podcast on this very subject.

    While I have to include patterns into my knitting budget, I do want you to be able to profit from your work. I contribute to my local NPR station, botanical garden and Ravelry for much the same reason - I appreciate the service, and I would be very sad should those services stop being available. And you have plenty of free patterns available that help me decide whether or not the cost of the other patterns would be worthwhile (and it IS!). I know I'll be buying your patterns. :)

  • Dorothy

    You know what, I think it stinks that you feel obligated to explain yourself. It's your patterns, the ones you did all the work to create!

    Thank you for your work! Thank you for making the patterns affordable! Thank you for being available to answer questions for knitter working on your patterns!

    Please do not take snarky comments to heart - I'm sure they do not represent the majority of people out there.

  • Lissa K

    KT, I totally understand you need to charge a fee for patterns. Most of us expect that we will be paying for most patterns we get. Your blog post clarified what I didn't know about the Magknits site. I was wondering why I couldn't connect to it. I didn't know it 'died'.
    Ignore the snarky comments. You have to pay your bills. If I was a designer, I would charge for my patterns too...

  • You are working, whether in a office or at home. You are providing a product and should be paid for that product. I thought your explanation was well put and good way to educate potential customers. I do mind paying for patterns. I recognize the talent and effort and hard work behind them all.

    Take care, Joanne

    PS, I just bought you Pinnacles Scarf through Ravelry. Very nice.

  • Copyright Notice

    All content in this blog, including patterns and photos, is the intellectual property of Katherine Vaughan. All rights under US Copyright Law are reserved. Teachers, please direct your students to download/print out their own copies of patterns used in class. You are, of course, welcome to use items knit from any pattern for charity or sale, with the statement "design by Katherine Vaughan" appreciated.