Sometimes you cook, sometimes you get takeout
Published On: February 7, 2020

On Tuesday I put out the pattern for Dispatch (the little envelopes of alarming cuteness).  The response was overwhelmingly positive (it pretty much always is for those tiny projects).  People were excited it was out.  People bought the pattern.  People started showing me the awesome things they were making and telling about their marvelous plans for their creations.  Everything was great!

Then Thursday morning I got kind of a crummy comment.

The comment was left publicly on the pattern’s ravelry page for anyone to see (not sent to me privately) so I feel comfortable sharing it here (though I have blurred out the person’s ravelry name, and I very much do not want anyone to pester them, ok, don’t be jerks). Just in case it’s tricky to read the text in the image, the initial comment says:

The price for this small easy thing is horrible.

And my response says:

I completely disagree with you. It seems like the hundreds of people who have purchased the pattern over the last 48 hours disagree with you too.

I wrote a lengthy blog post about comments like yours last year. If you want the calm, polite version of a response to this sort of message, you can read it here:

The less polite version goes something like this:

If you think it’s too expensive, don’t buy it. If you think it’s easy and you don’t need a pattern to make it, don’t use one.

But lots of people do need a pattern for things like this. And they’re happy to have one that is thorough and detailed and helps them make something they’ll love. And I’m happy to put in the amount of time it takes to make those thorough and detailed patterns (creating this pattern took between 30 and 40 hours of work, not counting knitting time).

But I’m also very comfortable charging for my work.

So now I want to talk about this.  I said a lot of what I wanted to say in that blog post I mentioned in my response to the comment.  That’s over here, and everything in it still stands.  If you don’t need or want a pattern, cool, don’t use one!  But someone else might, and that’s ok.  If you don’t want to pay for a pattern, cool, don’t buy one! But someone else might, and that’s ok, too.

But today, I want to offer a framework for thinking about knitting patterns and when/if you buy them.  I’m pretty sure knitting patterns are like takeout.  Let’s look at takeout:

  • Is takeout the only way to get dinner?  Nope, there are lots of ways ways to figure out dinner!
  • Is takeout the cheapest way to eat? Nope, buying the ingredients and doing it yourself will cost way less!
  • But do you sometimes really want those spicy noodles/that meatball pizza/the really good soup? Yes, yes you do!
  • And do you sometimes just really want someone else to do the planning/shopping/cooking/cleanup for you?  Oh very much yes!

And that knitting pattern someone is selling, how does it compare:

  • Is buying a pattern the only way to knit? Nope, people knit without a pattern all the time!
  • Is buying a knitting pattern the cheapest way to knit?  Nope, there are oodles of free patterns out there!
  • But do you sometimes really want the exact hat/sock/sweater shown in the pattern? Yes, yes you do!
  • And do you sometimes just really want someone else to do the planning/experimenting/testing/math for you? Oh very much yes!

A knitting pattern (just like takeout) is a convenience.  It takes something you could do yourself if you wanted to put in the time to do it and does all the fiddly bits for you.

But here’s the tricky bit.  Do you walk into your favorite takeout place, look at the menu, and proclaim (loudly, and publicly for all to hear) “The price for this small easy thing meal is horrible?”  I bet you don’t.  I bet the thought of doing that makes you feel super uncomfortable.  So if it would make you uncomfortable to say in a restaurant to someone’s face, then it’s probably not cool to do it through the screen.

And now I know the vast, vast majority of the folks reading this would never even dream of doing any such thing.  Seriously, the lovely comments hugely outnumber the, um, less than lovely ones.  But I (and other designers) hear this often enough that there must be a sizeable number of knitters who think this is ok.

So if you, lovely knitter who would never do this, see someone doing it, think about gently talking with them about why it’s not ok.  Most people realize it pretty quickly once someone explains it to them.  And you will get to feel like a total badass for making the knitting world a better place!

P.S. Here’s a preview shot of what’s in the pattern. It comes in 3 sizes. There are 4 pages of step by step photos. There are 4 pages of charts. It includes 3 different templates for embroidering on the hearts, plus a blank grid for you to doodle something of your own if you want to make it your own. It includes detailed blocking instructions. It basically does everything short of holding your hands and making the stitches for you. And it is totally worth the price.

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