There's been a lot of buzz in the fiber arts community this week after Thread and Ladle published an informative blog post on the cost of a knitting pattern, which was shared widely on social media. I wrote a similar post a couple years back, and they both lead to the same conclusion: a lot of time, effort, and money goes into making quality knitting patterns, and some members of the community continue to undervalue them, and therefore, the designers' work. And Beatrice notes in her piece:
"Here’s the problem with that- if we are only ever willing to pay designers less than a fair price for their work, then it won’t be a sustainable job for anyone. And all those amazing knitting patterns that inspired your knitting project in the first place… poof!"
Pattern prices have been increasing over the years--when I started knitting in 2007, a good sweater pattern would cost around $5, and now they run $7-9--but so has the quality. When digital patterns first came onto the scene, sweater patterns included far fewer sizes, rarely did you get a schematic, and the instructions would often include gems like "reverse shaping for opposite side" or "decrease 17 stitches evenly over the next 2 rows."
That improved quality means a lot more work for the designers, and while we are able to charge a bit more for all that extra grading, drawing schematics, writing clear instructions, and so on, we're not quite ready to buy a Mercedes with all that extra cash.
Almost no one can make a living exclusively as a pattern designer. Think of some of the most popular designers--Ysolda, Jared Flood, Caitlin Hunter, Aroha Knits. They all have, as it's called these days, multiple income streams--they sell patterns, yarn, kits, e-courses, teach workshops, etc.
Designer cannot live on patterns alone.
I've been working hard to grow the MediaPeruana Designs brand over the last 2 years, with mixed results, and an income that's still well below where I want it to be. Part of that is just reach--getting my patterns noticed. But part of it, I realized, is that I'm simply not getting paid a fair wage for my work.
So on January 1, prices for MediaPeruana Designs patterns increased--garment patterns are now $7 and accessories $6. And further, I made the decision to stop offering so many sales, discounts and other deals on my patterns.
It seems like I used to have a sale every other month--Easter, Independence Day, Back to School, Yay Fall is Here--and with significant discounts too. But I realized that I don't actually want to attract customers who were only willing to buy patterns when they are 50% off. I want to attract customers who love my work enough to pay a fair price for it.
Of course, we all like a good deal occasionally. But if I'm constantly selling my work at a price point that makes it impossible to recoup costs, let alone make a profit, how is this ever going to become a viable business? I appreciate every single pattern purchase, but to create a sustainable business, I need to build a community of supporters who like and value my work whether it's on sale or not.
That's not to say sales can't be found. Newsletter subscribers always get a discount on new pattern releases as a thank you for their support, and every quarter I offer a different free pattern to new subscribers. I also occasionally offer pattern bundles when a new release drops, so you can get a bunch of patterns for a flat discounted price. I always participate in the Indie Design Gift-a-Long, which includes a sale period, and I will still have sales throughout the year.
But the discounts will be smaller and the sales will be less frequent. I'm will no longer be sponsoring a whole bunch of KALs and offering special coupons and free pattern prizes for each one. I won't be hosting a new Instagram giveaway every month. And access to my free patterns will be exclusive to newsletter subscribers and Patreon patrons.
Because I can't build a business giving away my work.
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