Tuesday, 12 June 2007

There's so such thing as a free knitting pattern. At least, not anymore.

So, this morning I stumbled upon an interesting discussion about the new issue of Knitty (have a butcher's here http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=175868.0) and people were complaining about how the designs were a bit of a miss, and have been for a couple of seasons now. Blah, blah, blah.

I must admit that knitty.com's aesthetic has shifted a bit. It's mostly socks and baby clothing and since I'm entranced by neither, I haven't really been hanging around the site much. I also think that there isn't as much sleekness to the designs as there used to be before, they now seem to be a bit... lacking.

To be honest, it's a trend that's been happening for the past year. The submissions to magknits and knitty are slipping in quantity (and quality? Subjective point that), and it's not the moderators' fault, it's just the designers of note putting a price tag on their talent, and a mere $75 US or whatever the one off fee for submitting designs isn't enough for them anymore.

There was a time, you used to be able to get good, solid knitting designs on the web.

For free.

But with the onslaught of paypal, etsy, craft magazines approaching web designers of note for book deals and patterns for their magazines (Glampyre, Knit and Tonic and My Fashionable Life for starters), internet knitting designers are now becoming their own brands and representatives. To be fair, designing clothing patterns are labour intensive; in terms of measurements, figuring out technicalities, and keeping an eye of an overall aesthetic that will please the potential buyer. Then it's the whole thing of modelling, etc. etc.

So as a sort of 'gesture' the feted knitting designer might throw out a pattern for a pair of socks, a hat or something for babies. Since none of the options suit people like me (hate knitting socks, don't wear hats, won't have children), I'm in a quandary.

Right now, there's an embarrassment of riches re: knitting patterns (and keep an eye on the crochet, it's getting there quickly. If craft interest were stocks, I'd buy into crochet and beading now). People have money and they are willing to spend it on patterns that actually *work* when you're done. No-one wants boxy or unstylish anymore, and are willing to put money towards good knitting designs. That is buyer's demand, people.

My complaint (and it's my journal and I can complain) is that the patterns are a false economy. Say, a pattern goes for $6 (£3). If you want to buy 6 patterns from the designer, you're looking at $36 (£18) which could buy you a knitting book with at least twice that amount of designs. It's a bit expensive when you look at it that way, which is why I'm dying for knit and tonic's and my fashionable life's books to come out. If I'm going to spend $36 on knitting patterns, might as well they come in a book, with pretty pictures and printed instructions instead of a PDF download, no?

Also, with all the designs on the internet (all paypal'd and PDF to boot) is that you can't really trade patterns anymore. There used to be a time that one could trade a pattern, see how a designer worked for her and then keep an eye out if another pattern cropped up. If they liked what they got for free, they'd be willing to buy the pattern at a cost and another designer was born.

Now? Ixnay on the pattern swaps, and you have to buy patterns from the designer on faith, and hope that your effort following her directions doesn't suck. I've actually done that. Paid for a pattern only to find that it's not as brilliant as its made out to be. No space for buyer's remorse, here. NO returns. I can't get a refund because it's akin to returning used earrings and underwear to a store (this does not affect your statutory rights as a customer).

Fair enough.

It's only $6.00, right?

BUT in internet circles its frowned upon if I offer the pattern(s) for a trade, to the point of being suspended (or at best, harshly spoken to) by various craft sites which is unfair. I'm stuck with a sucky pattern for me that might be another person's brilliant fit. * Now that is unfair.

So, to sum up (finally), as long as there's money in them knitting designs, there won't be so much good 'free' knitting designs online. It's happened to internet programmes (remember when Abode was free? Napster was viable? I do), and the rest of it. Remember when everyone was glad that certain prestigious magazines were trawling the internet to 'pick up' new designers and the rest? How y'all were elated that 'the man' finally recognised these people's skills and change the face of knitting?

Well, we now have to pay for it.

Basically, the gambit has been so successful, in terms of potential designers using the hits off their websites to get themselves publishing deals. I can't hate, if I had the talent and the drive, I'd do so too.

So, what do you think? I wish this were set out like a live journal account so that we could have discussion, but its not.

Anyway, out to buy lunch. See ya.

*Now, I'm not really speaking as someone who expects free patterns as my due. So far this year, I've spent almost $100 US on various pattern books (Loop d Loop Crochet and Knit, Knit 2 Together, Gaughn's Knitting nature, subscribtion to IK, the odd purchase of Vogue Knitting and Knit 1's, Rowan Pattern Books, Phildar, etc.) so I understand and appreciate designers having to make a living like everyone else.


Nell said...

Jaz, I agree with what yousay about Designers being their own representatives etc. Ithink you're right. However, I really disagree (in a friendly way!) about this issue of Knitty. I think it's great, with some relaly interesting patterns. Take Zinzin. That looks to me like it should be in a rowan studio! Great example of short row shaping and interesting details. In my opinion, I think previous issues could have been accused of being a tad mumsy, but this is great!

JayJay said...

As far as Knitty, I think you're right that overall knitters seem less thrilled with more recent issues. It does seem as if many of the go-to web designers are now publishing their designs leaving a vacuum. However, one would hope that new, fresh designers will fill this vacuum giving us an even better selection. (I have friends who are trying to do just that, but competition for getting published in Knitty or Magknits is fierce).

As for reselling or trading patterns, I don't understand why it would be any different than a book? I guess they're worried about you keeping a copy for yourself and trading the original?

cranberry said...

Hey Nell.

I hear what you're saying. Zinzin is a cool pattern, I give it that. Olgajazzy will go places.

Jayjay I can understand the designers not wanting you to resell their pattern re: their intellectual property and so on. It would be like fanfic in a way. You can play with the characters for your own use, but once money comes into play, everyone becomes a lawyer.

But dammit, I have two patterns that I've bought and gone off them big time. I don't want to sell them, because well it's not my right. But I do want to trade them for other patterns, and it's a bitch that I can't.

I'm sure that submitting to the knitting online zines are fierce, especially with the cachet that these submissons seem to bring.

Oh well, there's no more free lunch.