Happy Stitches

Keep your stitches smiling!

What is a pattern worth? July 5, 2010

Filed under: General Musings — happystitches @ 16:01

This old chestnut again!

What is a knitting pattern worth? How do I answer the question below, posed by a pattern distributor (whose country’s currency happens to be extremely low right now)?

“What I am up against is a huge market of either free or very cheap patterns, whilst Lucy’s are nice, there are lots of nice patterns in the COUNTRY NAME for a lot less money.”

I started writing patterns after many years of knitting from pattern books. I cut my teeth with Phildar patterns, which were excellent, a masterpiece of compact layout and learned to interpret the code that forms knitting abbreviations. As time passed, I tried designs from Rowan, Patricia Roberts, Tessa Lorant to name but a few that I can remember.

The things that stuck in my mind were (with no particular names above singled out) the lack of details when it came to technique suggestions, poor planning for easy finishing, lack of completion of edgings etc. I now understand why. Most knitting patterns from yarn companies are subsidized vehicles to sell yarn. You sell yarn fastest by keeping the needles big and the knitting simple.

I feel that my patterns have over the years, more and more become workshops in a pattern. I endeavor to illustrate and describe techniques, give both simple and sophisticated options and wherever possible give both chart and row by row directions. This means that my patterns are longer than usual. They take both more paper and a lot  longer to write.

Now, as I am so busy writing new detailed patterns I rarely have time to knit from anyone else’s patterns. Thus, I am unable to compare how they stack up as a knitting experience for the end user. Are they too detailed? What do you like about them? What DON’T you like about them? How can I get knitters over the “Look how long the pattern is, it’s too complicated for me.” syndrome? I could write shorter patterns, it would be much quicker for me!

A brief pattern would be: A pretty picture plus “Cast-on 24sts. Good luck. Some assembly is required!”

So how can you tell a pattern by it’s cover? Thank goodness for Ravelry. At last we do have a forum for reviewing patterns.

PS – I did have a holiday and knit a Hanne Falkenberg kit a few years back and I thoroughly enjoyed my excursion into her not-inconsiderable brain. I was impressed at the thoughtfulness of her design. Another designer on my wish list is the wonderful Marianne Isager. I need to retire.

PPS – The Bubbles Scarf is up on Patternfish now.


12 Responses to “What is a pattern worth?”

  1. Janet Kelley Says:

    I think there can be a huge difference between free and paid patterns. Once I find a designer I like, I tend to stick with them as I then know the quality of the directions. I would rather pay for patterns I like, just to know what I’m getting. Keep writing!!

  2. Florence Gerlach Says:

    I have knit several Hanne Falkenberg designs,I prefer small needle designs,sometimes her directions are confusing but the end result is worth the time.
    I use your DVD’s every day for treadmill walking,it is necessary for my high blood pressure. I intend to buy all of them,even the
    ones that I will never use. I have started an alpaca slip stitch design,I wonder if I will finish it ,if River John made size 9 needles it would be easier. One day soon I will knit one of your designs. Florence

  3. Paula Says:

    I find that your patterns are well worth the price, for all the reasons you mentioned. I rarely knit from patterns but I know that when I buy yours they will include a wealth of detail, options, and excellent description of techniques that I will use again and again.

  4. Joan Hamer Says:

    No, don’ t make your patterns any less detailed. It is indeed like taking a class and I’d rather pay the price for a longer, wordy pattern that a cheap or free one that requires that you fly by the seat of your pants. I will admit to ordering the DVD for Double Knitting to understand better the Bubbles Scarf. You stretch the mind but not to the point where you can’t understand what a masterpiece you’re making. Keep on doing what you’re doing.

  5. Allison Says:

    Oh, I am so glad you asked! :^)
    For me, too many words spoil the soup. Not to say too many instructions, but too many WORDS. If things are stated simply but CLEARLY, I am in knitterly heaven! If you include charts, you are a dear one :^) I am always willing to pay more for a well written pattern. Do not concede… you are too infamous to lessen your standards. OK????? :^)

  6. Cheryl Waters Says:

    I still think designers should be compensated for what they do. If they have a detailed pattern, then they deserve compensation for that detail. I feel that detail is important because even if you give a difficulty level, beautiful patterns are going to attract new and inexperienced knitters. Rather than have someone end up hating knitting, details can help ensure they love knitting. One of the ways to help cut costs are to offer patterns in a digital format rather than hard copy. I know I would prefer a PDF file myself.

  7. I agree that your patterns are a workshop in a pattern that is why I buy them even if I don’t knit the item. There are a few other designers I regularly buy for the same reason. But then I take workshops when they are offered too because I want to learn techniques. What is the answer? Do what you do and charge a reasonable price for them. PS your blog and the Bubbles Scarf caused me to download my first patterns from Patternfish.

  8. Stickweaver Says:

    I believe your patterns are well worth what you charge. As well as the fact that they are detailed and well written, they are innovative and interesting. It’s pointless to expect to get a product like yours for the same price as an ordinary pattern. You should stop worrying about the people who don’t understand this. They don’t deserve you 🙂
    If you mentioned the added value in the title – ‘Pattern and Lesson’ or such, might they clue in?

  9. woollythinker Says:

    I think Ravelry is doing a lot to improve understanding of pattern pricing, and the vast amount of work that goes into designing. Take heart from designers like Anne Hanson and Ysolda Teague; their (averagely priced) patterns are enormously popular, and I believe this is as much because of their clarity and detail as the beauty of the designs. Their patterns certainly don’t run short, but that’s a plus. Keep on doing what you’re doing, please.

  10. Julia Grunau Says:

    We see many, many patterns from many, many designers and companies. And believe me when I say that no one betters Lucy Neatby for detail, helpfulness, extravagant diagrams and charts whenever they might be helpful, hints, tips, and all manner of support. Given that you’re going to be spending a considerable amount of time making the item, you want to invest that time well. And Neatby’s patterns are exemplars of the form. Patterns are probably the least overall expensive element of the project. Economize on other elements if you have to, and many of us do; but for heaven’s sake, spend a wee bit extra for the expert instruction. You should never regret it.

  11. Chris Says:

    I started knitting your patterns over 10 years ago, and at that time I was absolutely blown away with the quality of your patterns. My friend (who is a LYS owner) and I would marvel at how good your patterns were written. In fact you have become a benchmark for us on quality and excellence-we do compare other patterns to yours and laugh -its not a Neatby pattern. One can simply never go wrong with your patterns! Due not change one iota. I knit lots and I do teach knitting and the majority of problems knitters encounter are from badly written patterns that are often full of mistakes.

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