Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I Ask You, O Knitters.

Green Mitts

Here's my conundrum.

The Pattern a Week project has been going, in some respects, remarkably well. I've completed three designs in three weeks (which is more than I completed in the three years prior to this) and am feeling good about what's coming up. The two I've released so far have had lots of Rav downloads (numbering in the hundreds) and nice comments.

On the other hand, I didn't just start this project to give myself a creative challenge. I also started it in the hopes that eventually, people would buy some patterns and I could help support my Fab Hubby and darling Z. (I'm a stay-at-home mom, and love it.) Ideally, I'd give it some time to see if anything happens--a month, maybe two.

But the next design up for release--those green mitts I keep posting pictures of--are a special case. I started knitting them before the idea for Project a Week ever entered my little head. I've devoted a lot of time and effort to them, and I'm proud of them. More than that, I've had comments and e-mails asking me to notify people when the pattern is for sale, so that they can buy it.

So my worry is this: if I offer this design for free for a week--as I have for the previous two, and as I intended to do for all the designs in this project--am I going to lose any potential sales I might have had? Am I going to be letting my family down?

I'm not under any delusion that the hundreds of downloads of my free patterns would have translated into hundreds of sales. Some knitters only knit free patterns. I'm cool with that. I did the same when I started knitting. It didn't make any sense to me to shell out precious money on something that I might screw up royally.

But now I am the kind of knitter who does sometimes spend money on a pattern, and I ask myself: if I saw a pattern I really liked being offered for free, would I go back and buy it later to support the designer, or would I forget all about it? Honestly, I'd probably forget all about it.

I want to do right by my family, and I want to do right by this design, and I want to do right by the great community of knitters. I've come up with several possibilities:

1. Offer the pattern free for a week as I'd originally intended. If it sells later, it sells. If not, it wasn't meant to be.

2. Don't offer the pattern for free, but continue to offer the Week Two pattern (Token) for free for another week.

3. Offer the pattern for free for a week, but put up a PayPal Donate button on the pattern page, so that if people want to pay a little something for it, they can.

I'll decide what to do by Saturday, but input is appreciated.

This also raises for me the question of how the rest of Pattern a Week is going to go. I mean, I made up the rules myself, so really, I can change them anytime I want. No one's holding me to them but me. But what if I come up with another pattern that is really complex, or really close to me somehow, or that I want to use to raise money for charity or something?

I've put up a poll in the sidebar, if you care to weigh in on that question. Should I continue as I've started, always initially offering new designs for free? Should I occasionally charge for a special pattern? Should I quit offering new patterns for free, except for special occasions? Should I always charge for new patterns, and forget the free thing entirely?

Help me, O Knitters of the Internet! I need to make a decision.


  1. You could put it up for sale. Maybe have a random drawing for a certain number of free patterns.

  2. In my opinion, if you have a pattern you'd rather sell than give away, you should sell it. If we don't value our art and talent, who will? Like you, I started out with the free stuff because I didn't want to get in over my head after having spent money on patterns, and like you, I am a SAHM who's now writing patterns, hoping to get paid for my talents. I think option #2 is the best of the ones you listed, but sounds like you need to be true to yourself. Believe in yourself :)

  3. Heather - Thanks for the idea. I don't think I'll do that this time, but it's good to keep in mind for the future.

    Karen - Thank you! After hearing that, and seeing the poll results, I am feeling better about charging upfront for patterns. I think I will continue offering new ones free for just a week, as that is in keeping with the spirit of the project, but I don't feel so iffy now about charging in special cases if I want to.