Patterns: To Publish or Not

When I check the patterns that I have published on Ravelry, I find that I published my Bandito pattern in December of last year and before that it was the Fingerless Mitts trio of patterns published in December 2008 – January 2009.  It’s not that I haven’t been writing up patterns.  In fact, this year alone I have 9 patterns written up and mostly ready to go – but not published.  In 2008, I have 6 in the same state (that I haven’t messed with since then).  That’s People patterns only – there are a few doll clothes patterns, too.

Why is this?  I’m not totally sure.  Part of it is probably that I feel that I’ve somehow “lost my touch.”  Of the first four sock patterns I published (between December 2007 and March 2008), two were very successful (multiple hundreds of Ravelry projects) and the other two were not too bad (8 and 38 projects).  Since then, I’ve published two more sock patterns, with a total of 2 projects other than mine.  I’ve also published one hat (44), a collar, three fingerless gloves (max 15), and a scarf (16).  Somewhat discouraging, though probably not statistically significant.

Also, I have become aware of an issue with publishing free patterns:  is it fair to “professional” designers to make patterns available for free?  This is a nagging feeling in the back of my mind that just doesn’t make me feel too good about sharing my patterns.  In some ways, of course, I do feel good about it – lots of people can’t afford to pay for patterns, and they find mine potentially useful.

Another odd factor is that I have started using the absolutely wonderful Free Pattern Testers group on Ravelry.  I have sent two patterns through there.  The first was my first shot at the Thrummed Headband.

Vintage Headband Worn 1

The pattern I submitted for test knitting was the version shown in the picture above. I later made a slightly wider version, which is easily incorporated into the same pattern, plus a much wider version, shown here, which has some things in common with the original, but many more differences:

Thrummed Capulet 1

And then I also created a non-thrummed version of the wide headband, shown here:

Capulet worn 2

So that one is very complicated. I also have a thrummed mitten pattern which I’ve considered including with some or all of the items shown above, possibly in a for-pay version. At any rate, that got really complicated and I don’t know what I want to do.

The other pattern that went through test knitting was what I’ve named the Antonina Cowl.

Cherished Cowl Back

The test knitters were very helpful, and I have lots of suggestions, some incorporated into the pattern and some not. Some slightly contradictory, actually. So again I’ve got myself confused and slowed down.

But the test knitting (as well as experiences with my published patterns) have made it clear that my instructions often confuse people. So that’s discouraging, too.

Here is a composite of several of the other projects for which I have unpublished patterns.

It does seem as though some of these might be worth publishing.  I particularly like the pattern for the single sock on the left – my Hildegard pattern.  I worked out and even tested three sizes, each with a variant of the pattern stitch as the chief sizing method.

Does anyone have any suggestions on this topic?  Do you think there is still a place for free patterns?  Do you think there are any of the patterns shown above (including in earlier photos) that should be published for any reason?  I’d love to hear any opinions you care to offer.


About Knitterly Anne

A knitter for many years, I have become increasingly involved with designing knit patterns in recent years. Other interests include my lovi
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6 Responses to Patterns: To Publish or Not

  1. Your knitting is beautiful. I’ve been eyeing the orange and brown socks in the upper left corner of the unpublished patterns.

    Having never published a pattern, I don’t know all the ins and outs. In fact I have one written out and don’t know if it is easy to follow. Perhaps I will seek out the Free Pattern Testers on Ravelry. I’m a member there but rarely access the site.

    I have purchased patterns singly, in pamphlets magazines and books but love it when I find free patterns for my knitting. So, yes, I think there is a place for free patterns.

  2. Sarah says:

    First utmost, be assured you are very talented, creative designer, Anne. Ravelry is an interesting place. My take for those that are so-called SUCCESSFUL not necessary best and/or well designed. However, the designer(s), friend(s) of the designer(s) or follower(s) is/are active/chatty on various groups. So, they get a lot of exposure–part of marketing. Also keep in mind people who make your designs not necessarily share their finished objects on Ravelry or elsewhere. It doesn’t mean a thing relating to you personally. I do share your internal struggles. Our human nature likes to tie our success with others’ feedback. When I am vocal and active in various group especially when I knit lace, I get a lot of comments/feedback. Since I haven’t cranked out much lace, the activity drops significantly. Again, I don’t let that influence how I see myself (at least I try LOL)

    People in my local knitting group crave for FREE patterns and they are very frugal knitters. Many of them would copy and share their paid patterns which it doesn’t sit well with me–again, I am a minority in this view. Frankly, I don’t think I need to BUY a pattern with the elaborate library I have accumulated over the years. Many of them/rare ones are not even listed on Ravelry. I still buy books and magazines because I am one believe there is always something new/different that I don’t know–inspiration is another factor. I get a lot of great ideas through other designers’ work. This year, I really try hard to make my own design work. It’s really tough one because it’s just so easy and convenient to just knit a pattern!

    Anne, you are very accomplished, creative fiber-artist. You have my total admiration. It’s the very reason why I visit you often…I always walk away with something refreshing, useful, and/or thought-provoking. I may not comment much but I do appreciate you and every effort in sharing your know-how and insight. Keep us the good work, Anne 😀

  3. Lori says:

    Your post caused me to think about my own use of free and not-free patterns on Ravelry. For whatever reason, I don’t buy sock or mitt patterns but I will buy sweater, shawl, and some scarf patterns. That’s doesn’t really make sense – I am sure that designing socks and mitts can be every bit as complicated and time-consuming as designing the others. There are so many gorgeous and free sock patterns, I just don’t feel the same kind of need. Of course there are hundreds of free sweater patterns too, but I’ll still buy sweater patterns.

    Perhaps the solution is for you to give some patterns away for free, and charge for others. It’s a complicated issue, and I am always so grateful to designers who give patterns away. I don’t expect people to do their work for free, AND I happily take free patterns. Complicated even for users of patterns, I guess. 🙂

  4. Heather says:

    Well this is a tricky issue. You are a talented artist have no doubt about it. I don’t have much experience with publishing patterns (none, really) but I have never minded paying money for a pattern I loved. On the other hand I love a good free pattern, it allows me to look it over before I decide if I even have the ability to knit it, or change my mind and not knit it guilt free. I’m a little fickle though in my knitting. So in the end, I’m not much help at all. Good luck figuring it all out though.

  5. Laurie says:

    Hmmm…what immediately jumped into my (not quite yet caffeinated) head was that you should publish a book of your patterns knit with Meg’s yarns.

    I’ll admit I’m totally into gratification when it comes to patterns. Whether I have to buy it or not means nada to me. If I like it and want to knit it, I’ll buy it or download it. But I do need to give this some more thought, as I’m starting to come up with some of my own designs and revisit old ones (just to see how awful they really are…).

    And that cowl…I WANT that cowl, free or not, I MUST knit that cowl!!!

  6. Wow, I have to say this is my first time to your blog and I will be subscribing! I have recently completed my very first knitting project, a wee baby cardi, and LOVED it. Your site has provided me with a lot of inspiration and I think a trip to knitworld tomorrow will be in order. Thank you! And yes, you should definitely publish some of your work! 🙂

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