In the recent discussions about inclusivity and representation in the knitting community, a topic that has come up is how the economics of the industry often result in exclusion. For example, indie yarn is expensive, yet many of us look down on knitters using cheaper yarns. Or, attending events like Stitches and Rhinebeck help people become more involved in the community, but the travel and other expenses involved in attending these events mean they’re accessible primarily to the wealthiest members of the community. Dyers and event organizers are now having important discussions about how to address those concerns.
In my corner of the knitting community, I’ve been thinking about how patterns could be made more accessible to people of all means. But when it comes to indie patterns, this is a tricky issue. Patterns are already undervalued and underpriced, and the majority of designers (if the January sales data Casey recently shared is any indication) are struggling to turn a profit at all, let alone earn a decent living. So how can we make our patterns more accessible without bankrupting our businesses? It’s definitely something that requires some consideration.
In the meantime, I’ve put together some suggestions to help you, as the customer, save money when pattern shopping.
Most designers have occasional sales—look for them around the holidays or the designer’s birthday. A good way to make sure you know when sales are happening is to follow your favorite designers on social media and . . .
If your favorite designer has a newsletter, be sure to sign up! Not only can you keep up-to-date about any sales happening, but most designers save their best deals and discounts for their subscribers.
Most designers offer the best pricing when their patterns are brand new, AKA, introductory pricing. MediaPeruana Designs knocks $1 off the pattern price for the first week (with an even bigger discount for newsletter subscribers and Patreon Patrons!).
Collections/ebooks might seem expensive, but the price per pattern is actually crazy cheap. For example, Juntos: Knits for Togetherness is $19.99 and includes 10 patterns—that’s $2/pattern! When you have your eye on a pattern, check to see if it’s included in a collection, and if so, whether any of the other patterns in the ebook interest you. Buying the collection may ultimately be cheaper than buying all the patterns you like individually.
Buy in bulk
Many designers offer a “bulk” pattern price—a discount when you buy a certain number of patterns at the same time. You can often find this info on their main designer page on Ravelry. (My deal is buy 4 and the cheapest is free!)
Test knitting not only gives you the opportunity to try out a new pattern for free, but many designers also compensate you with an additional free pattern once the test is complete. To be most attractive to designers as a test knitter, be sure to take good photos and stay active on at least one social media channel and/or Ravelry.
Watch for giveaways
Yarn giveaways draw the most attention, but don’t miss out on pattern giveaways! You’ll often see these when a designer releases a new pattern, or hits a social media milestone (ex: 5000 followers on Instagram).
Indie Design Gift-a-Long
Thousands of designers participate in the Indie Design Gift-a-Long during the holiday season, and every participating designer can offer up to 20 of their patterns 25% off for the first week of the event—it’s a great time to stock up! Plus, if you continue to participate in the GAL throughout its run, you’ll have a chance to win free patterns.
Check to see if your favorite designer has a Patreon—the perks offered usually include pattern discounts and freebies that will ultimately save you money. For only $1/month, my Patrons get access to an exclusive library of free patterns, and for $5/month, they get a monthly free pattern coupon. That sponsorship level totals $60/year, but if you were to buy a pattern from me every month, it would average out to $78/year—you save 18 bucks by sponsoring!
A quick reminder: supporting designers is necessary if you want them to keep producing great patterns, so please don’t steal. Downloading paid patterns from sketchy “free” patterns sites or buying a pattern and then distributing it to 10 of your friends at knit night isn’t cool. For more on this, read this post. And for ways you can support designers without spending money, check out this post.
How do you save on patterns? Share in the comments!