My Thoughts on Free Knitting Patterns..

According to my stats, recently it seems that a lot of people are visiting here looking for free knitting patterns.  Ok there are a couple in my pattern library if that is why you are here – feel free to go straight there if you don’t want to read on.

I’m starting to wonder how I feel about these free patterns being on my website, and how it reflects on me as a designer.  Granted, if you are looking to buy a knitting pattern from me, then the free ones will show you what my layout is like, and maybe give you a better idea of what you are going to get.  However the two free patterns I am offering are very basic, hence the reason I decided not to charge for them.

From what I have grown to understand, there are two kinds of knitters.  The ones that won’t pay for a pattern, no matter how small the price, and the ones that are quite happy to support designers and will pay for a knitting pattern.

When I first started knitting I got through a lot of free patterns learning the basics.  But it’s only since I began designing and trying to make a living from it that I realised exactly how much work goes into making a pattern from scratch.  My designs so far are only small, however they will usually take me a good few days to write, knit, frog, tweak and perfect the pattern before I even start to make the first draft.  I take all the photos myself and design all the layouts.  Until I am able to get yarn support from more avenues, I also have to factor in the cost of yarn, and also the expenses involved in having someone else check everything is going to add up.

I haven’t started advertising yet, however it is on the cards for the new year.  It’s only after I realised how much time I would be spending on this business that I was able to put a price on how much a pattern should cost.  It seems that there are a lot of people out there who just want something for free, and it’s only when you try and help them understand why it isn’t that it might start to make sense to them.  Maybe.

It’s not just about knitting.  This isn’t just a hobby that I’m quite happy to do in front of the TV.  I left my full-time job to do this and I wouldn’t have it any other way – I can honestly say I enjoy every single aspect of it! (Except maybe the self promotion face-to-face – it’s far easier on the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc)

There will always be designers out there offering lovely patterns for nothing or at a very little cost, and the problem that I see with this is that it seems to belittle the perceived worth of knitting patterns to some people.  It’s the same with knitted garments – I am often asked how much I would charge for a hat or a cardigan, for example, and people are surprised when I explain that it’s going to cost a lot more than going to Topshop.

For others of you that design – what are your thoughts on providing free patterns? Do you find they help with your traffic or just bring the wrong sort of people to your website?

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9 Responses to My Thoughts on Free Knitting Patterns..

  1. I am not a designer by any stretch of the imagination. I am a so-so knitter and crocheter and, I admit, I like to get free patterns, but I also am willing to purchase patterns online via Ravelry, etc., and have done so. I appreciate the creativity and work in pattern creation and marvel at those of you who can do this.

  2. Alicia says:

    I am just beginning to publish designs, so I now have a better understanding of what goes into pattern writing than I did when I was a beginning knitter. I’ve been lucky enough to receive pattern support for some designs but when you add the cost of yarn to the price of a tech editor and test knitter compensation, none of my designs have yet to break even with the amount of money I’ve put into them… and that doesn’t even account for the time! To produce a quality pattern is not as simple as just writing down how you made something, which I think is something some knitters don’t really understand.

    I know I, personally, used to use primarily free patterns because it bothered me to either 1) purchase a pattern I later decided I didn’t want to knit or didn’t have the skills to knit or 2) purchase a pattern that was poorly written and didn’t explain everything I felt it should. However, as I’ve improved as a knitter, I’ve become more selective about which patterns I invest in and really enjoy supporting designers’ whose work inspires me– whether or not I ever get around to knitting that particular pattern. Sometimes I buy a pattern just to see how something was done and I’ve learned a lot about knitting from some very well-written patterns.

    Despite all that, the way some patterns are priced still bothers me. It is something of a personal choice but when I see very small, simple items (like a baby hat or a pair of simple mitts) priced near the upper range it seems a bit much. As a consumer, the amount of time an item takes to knit or the complexity of the item affects how much I’m willing to pay for the pattern. $7 for a beautiful, complex sweater design in multiple sizes? Sure. $7 for a coffee cup cozy? No. I realize this outlook is a bit irrelevant when you start getting into designers who don’t actually knit their own samples, but it still affects the way I feel about the pricing on a personal level.

  3. Sandra says:

    Fair comment, I think. Personally, I’m happy to pay for a pattern if I think its something I’m going to make and like and often I make things more than once so the relative value of the pattern increases, if you see what I mean! I do think its a good idea to have examples of how the patterns are written to look at – not everyone’s style is easy to follow and I have bought a few clangers of patterns in the past, which is always disappointing. Good luck with it, and try not to worry about the browsers, If you are in a shop you flick through loads of patterns without necessarily buying – you never know some might turn into purchasers! :-)

  4. I’m also an active blogger, and free patterns drive traffic to my blog which may be helpful for other purposes. It seems that most of the people who stop by for the free patterns on my blog are just passing through, but free content does introduce you to new potential fans. This is something that each designer needs to assess for themselves and also see how it connects to their overall business plan.

    I think that if you offer free patterns, it should be done in a way to promote your overall business plan – perhaps you may host them on your website vs. as a Ravelry download, for example.

  5. Heidi says:

    When I started knitting, I relied on free patterns a lot more than I do now. They introduced me to a whole world of designers, many of whose patterns I now buy. It took me gaining the confidence as a knitter to feel like I deserved to pay for a pattern — maybe my logic was backward, but I also graduated to nicer and nicer yarn as I became more skilled.

    I’m weighing the whole to free pattern or not to free pattern question myself as I get ready to self publish my first knitting designs. I don’t want people to come to expect only free patterns from me, but if a free pattern gets more projects on Ravelry and that leads more people to my blog/pattern store/whatever, it may be a useful tradeoff. Right now I’m taking the approach of offering patternish tutorials on my blog. That way I can offer a little insight into my style but not be offering up a product that I poured so much time and care into for free. I have no idea if that will pay off, but we’ll see.

  6. Sue says:

    I agree with a lot of whats been said here, maybe a few free patterns will encourage people to look at what you are selling.

    I like you, am amazed at the reaction when asked how much I would charge to knit an item, people assume that as I love to knit I’ll do it for nothing!! I am happy to knit as a gift for someone, but if asked for something in particular then its only fair that we should be paid for our time – well hardly our time as that would make it prohibitive, but you get my gist. I wish you luck in your enterprise, don’t sell yourself short

  7. Evelyn says:

    I’m a fairly experienced knitter — I’d put myself in the intermediate category — and have designed a couple of hat patterns that I released for free. Being a newbie designer, I released them for free so that knitters could get a sense of my abilities as a designer and to also give knitters confidence in my designs. If and when I release patterns for sale, I hope that knitters will be willing to pay because they already know they can trust me. That said, when I come across pay-for-patterns, if I can figure out how to knit the item just by looking, I tend not to buy them. Simply put, I don’t want to spend money on patterns that, at my level, I can create on my own. I will, however, definitely spend money on patterns that have some depth. I know the time, energy, and love that goes into designing and it’s worth every penny!

  8. Truly Myrtle says:

    I am totally happy to pay for a pattern. As I think about taking a leap into the world of designing I am very conscious of what goes into producing a great pattern.
    I actually think that the cost of big garments should go up a bit more – around the cost of sewing pdf patterns which seem to go for about US$10. Accessories at around US$4-6 feels about right to me.
    I haven’t popped in to see you for ages, best subscribe by email – it seems to be the only way I can catch up with blogs I love!

  9. Heidi Marie says:

    I started designing and writing patterns about two years ago, and my first couple of designs I posted for free. They were free only because I essentially had no idea how to write for someone else to understand what I meant and it was an exercise in learning for me. I wanted to put it out there so I could get feedback without making knitters mad at me in case they paid for what amounted to rubbish. lol Over time I have gotten more proficent at writing patterns (for instance I discovered that there WERE in fact standards on how to write things lol) so I have begun to charge, but I will still throw out a freebie now and again if its something simple, just to get my name out there and reach people who wouldn’t necessarily pay for a pattern.

    I have also had that conversation with someone who wants a hand knitted scarf and it always starts the same way. “If you were a skilled craftsperson that relied on this income to make a living, what would you pay your self per hour? Alright, $30 an hour sounds reasonable…and it will take me about 20 hours to knit up your infinity scarf… OK, no? Well in that case, I can teach you to knit.” LMAO!

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