Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The trouble with free patterns

Like a lot of professional designers I have another job to support my designing career, which like many of you probably already know is managing The Natural Dye Studio
NDS dyes and sells yarn, luckily its a successful business as it supports the 3 of us.
Pattern support is an essential part of a yarn company, my designs are designed to help sell wool (and of course, I do love to design!)

A few years ago I decided to offer a couple of free patterns to encourage new customer's to try our yarn.
My most successful free pattern was the Angel scarf

On reviewing it a few weeks ago, I found it has 2657 hearts and 264 projects on Ravelry. It pleased me to see that many people love my designs and are inspired to spend their time making them, however I was a little shocked to find that there's only 1 project out of 264 made with NDS's Angel lace.
So, in these financially tight times I decided to discontinue offering it for free as it wasn't encouraging wool sales.
Since then I have recieved 3 or 4 messages a week asking for the free pattern and am shocked to find a couple of the messages have been quite stroppy, one being down right rude! As you can imagine it has made me a little fustrated being harrased by one or two irate crocheters who have feel it is necessary to demand from me. The pattern was on for two years, I believe that was a generous amount of time to offer a pattern for free and hope that the majority of customers felt satisfied with this.

However I've decided, due to the patterns popularity, to re-offer the pattern for free but only if accompanied with a purchased skein of Angel lace, therefore trying to appease the demand and also help it benefit NDS.


  1. yep, some of the yarnlovers are not aware of the amount of work in a pattern and in saving old skills from our history.
    I think you are right to bring up this issue! Does these ladies (I assume they are ladies?)have the right to be so unpleasant and in this way let us even doubt about the importance of our work?
    I think you do the right thing to bring this up!
    so, and now leave it behind you and let go one with our warmth bringing jobs in a cold world xxx Marijke from the Netherlands

  2. That seems competely reasonable to me...generous and fair!

  3. Make perfect sense. Patterns take a long time to perfect and will always look best in the yarn of the original.

  4. I'm in complete agreement. I love free patterns - who doesn't? - but no-one has a right to demand them. I use patterns because I haven't the time or ability to design my own, and I'm happy to pay for them.

  5. What a generous response. Many folks today are quite "stroppy". The world is an angry place to folks who are afraid of change, and changing we are. I send a dozen bunches of love and admiration for you and what you add to the world.....please allow this to balance out the bomb undeservedly lobbed in your direction.

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  7. Also in complete agreement with you - there are quite a few places that only provide free patterns with purchase of yarn - I totally support you :0)

    1. This sounds very reasonable to me, and I am sure lots of people will feel lucky to be able to use your pattern. Those that feel that a gift offered freely is their right have a problem THEY need to look at and address. Hopefully this blog post has helped them to recognise this fact.

  8. Good for you. Respect for designing skills is really important. The vast majority of people can learn to knit or crochet but only a minority can learn to design.

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  10. I've just had an idea thrown at me to advance the sales of my buttons, to put them in a kit. But I don't think the person who suggested it had any idea in the work involved.
    I've not got time to get a designer, and test knitters, and do finished items to show, and get the pattern printed, and get someone to dye up the yarns to go with my buttons, and get everything packaged in a nice bundle.
    Just doing that is a full time job, I'd have no time to make the ceramic stuff.
    People just don't understand that a big company have teams of people to do what we do on our own.

    I am always happy to pay for a pattern, unfortunately I don't crochet, yet.

  11. I think the idea of offering a free pattern with the yarn is a good one. It just add's that extra incentive and it's nice when everything all comes together.
    I know that like many others I have a stash of yarn that needs using up and if I see 'the right pattern' for the yarn I have I'm more than happy to pay for it.
    Good luck with both your yarn and pattern sales.

  12. Good for you! Some people just want everything for nothing, but never stop to ask themselves what they give away for free. You are absolutely right to do what is best for you, your family and your business. Your patterns are worth it for sure, and your yarn is gorgeous!

  13. Pattern designing requires so much creativity, attention to detail, tenacity, and more time than many would estimate. And yet the resulting pattern sells for the price of a Starbucks drink! It's not unreasonable to pay a designer a few coins for something that you may make again and again, and possibly cherish for a lifetime :-)