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Why all Crochet Patterns can’t be Free

Happy New Year, friends! I want to take some time as we begin 2024 to share a bit about my experiences as a crochet pattern designer over the past 5 years. It might feel a bit like a rant at times, but please bear with me and give it a read. I would love for you to understand me a bit better!

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Designing a pattern doesn’t happen overnight

There is so much more involved in crochet pattern writing than it would seem. Before I began designing, I thought creative crocheters came up with an idea, made it, typed up exactly what they did, snapped a couple of pictures, plopped them in and posted the pattern for sale. Seems easy enough, right? Wow, was I clearly mistaken in terms of the work that goes into producing a single crochet pattern.

Now, I can’t speak on behalf of any other crochet designers because their process may be quite different from mine, but here is typically what goes down when I begin a new pattern:

I grab my yarn and my hook. Sometimes, I know exactly which yarn and which hook I am going to use. Other times, I don’t even know that much yet. In those cases, I grab multiple skeins of yarn in varying colors and/or thicknesses, along with a few different hooks and start between 20-50 foundation stitches.

Then I begin working up a stitch sample. I will try different stitch combinations and work up a few rows, take a good look at it, hate what I am doing, rip it all out and start again.

If I am lucky, I only will start and frog a project maybe 3-5 times before I settle on a stitch concept. Sometimes I will spend an entire week or two just making stitch samples until I arrive at a concept I am loving.

Then I frog it all out again, and determine what the actual foundation length needs to be.

I work one row at a time, pausing to grab my notebook and pencil and write down what I did. If my design is a series of row repeats, I will stop pausing after each row once I have completed 3-4 repeats of the row design. Then I work on completing my pattern.

If the stitch technique is complicated and merits either photo or video tutorials, I will do one of 2 things- either stop working on my design until I have the perfect lighting so I can set up my photo or video studio and get the tutorials staged and captured, OR just keep working on my design, then work up another sample that I can photograph, film or both when the timing and lighting are right.

Why do I have to set up a studio? Because my office/design oasis/studio area is also known as my living room and if I were to leave everything set up all of the time, we wouldn’t be able to access the front door. One day, we will find a home that has all the space I need to set everything up and never take it down. But I’m going to need to sell a whole lot more patterns to make that dream a reality!

Once I have finished my design sample, written down everything I did and captured all of the tutorial shots I need, then comes the fun of photographing the finished item. Again, I have to wait until the lighting is just right, set up my studio and start staging photos. I honestly prefer to photograph my items on a live model, but ever since my daughter moved out 2 years ago, that has become quite a challenge. So most of the time I use my mannequin and also stage some flatlays. Sometimes my daughter comes to visit when the lighting is just right so either she can be the model or she can photograph me as I model. I have also been known to take selfies when I’m in a pinch!

Then comes the photo editing portion. I use my phone to take the pictures, then I have to transfer them to my tablet for cropping, lighting adjustments and watermarking. From there I transfer the photos over to my computer for the graphic design action!

So once the sample is made, each row has been written in my notebook and all of the photos are snapped, edited and sent to my computer, I am ready to actually begin the pattern writing process.

I use a word processing software to type up the pattern and get it prepared for a testing call and tech editing.

Once the pattern is typed up, I post photos of the finished project and request volunteers to test my pattern. I will usually have about 3-5 testers work through my design and ask them for feedback on any areas of confusion, typos, etc. In the meantime, I have the pattern tech edited, which means I hire a professional to go through my written pattern and ensure that all of the language is consistent and stitch counts are accurate.

While my pattern is with the testers and tech editor, I work on creating my graphics. I use templates so that all of my graphics are uniform throughout my website and recognizable as my work on searches.

If I filmed any tutorial videos for the design, I go in and edit them and upload to my Rumble channel.

Once my pattern is through testing and tech editing, I can begin the actual publishing process. I have a template I use so that all of my patterns follow the same flow and typography. I will insert all of my pattern instructions and photos into my template, then I finalize the PDF and upload it to my website.

Usually, I write a blog post to accompany a pattern release. If I am releasing a “Forever Free” pattern, I include all of the pattern instructions, along with the little story behind the pattern. I include my graphics, links to purchase the pattern and any applicable video tutorials in my blog post.

Once all of this is done, I am ready to launch and promote the pattern through my newsletter and social media.

As you can see, even a quick pattern takes a LOT of work on my end before it is ready for you.

Crochet patterns cost less than a cup of coffee

I get it. Money is tight. The cost of living is astronomical and the economy is a dumpster fire. I haven’t spent money on a fancy cup of coffee in over 2 years. I just drink my drip coffee from home, and frankly it tastes better to me than a “designer” coffee anyway. Did my coffee maker die last month, forcing me to use my little 4-cup backup brewer? Yes. Have I been able to afford to replace my coffee maker yet? No.

The new coffee maker I want is $36. Thirty. Six. Dollars. The same amount some people spend in a work week grabbing a Starbucks for their commute, and I can’t afford to put that out right now in order to have a pot of coffee every morning.

The last time I checked, a small latte from the coffee place was nearly $7. Seven. For a SMALL coffee. And people pay it without even blinking an eye.

Did you know that most crochet patterns cost between $3-$5? This means that you can choose to take $10 and buy one cup of coffee from the coffee shop and either tip the barista or keep the couple of dollars change for yourself, drink that cup and have nothing to show for it in an hour but a full bladder, OR you can take that same $10 and buy two crochet patterns from a crochet designer and have some money left over, plus hours, days, or even weeks of fun learning a new skill and when you are finished, you have a new completed project- Not to mention that you also put a huge smile on someone’s face by supporting their small business!

Just because its free doesn’t give you the right to be impolite

Ads are annoying. Trust me, I visit other websites and am annoyed by advertisements. I am annoyed with the ads on my own website from time to time. But unfortunately, ads are a necessary evil for most bloggers. Companies pay us a very small amount of commission to allow their advertisements on our websites, but the small amounts add up over time. If I have a really good day with lots of visitors, I might earn about $20.00 in advertising revenue. Most days I earn about a dollar or two, if that.

When you look at all of the effort I put in to design and publish a single pattern, its pretty clear that I am working for pennies an hour- maybe even less than that.

But I love designing crochet patterns and being able to share them with you! I have been known to offer discount codes for free PDF downloads throughout the year, both in blog hops and just on a random Tuesday when the mood strikes me. Most of the time, my visitors are extremely gracious and thankful, and if they experience some trouble, they will send me a kind note.

However, I have had my share of encounters with the rude crocheters among us. I have been told that I “should be ashamed of myself” for offering a discount for a bonus pattern on a day I am sharing a free download. I have been told that I am “a thief” because someone entered their credit card information on a site that I don’t even own. I have had people demand that I send the pattern to their email for free because “there are too many ads”. I know some of my fellow crochet designer friends have also experienced this type of rudeness, and frankly it is just uncalled for.

We all work VERY hard producing our patterns for you. A small handful of crochet bloggers who have been around for many many years are able to make a full-time living from their businesses, but most of us rely on another full-time job in order to keep us afloat. We do what we do because we love it. But I will go ahead and speak for all crochet designers when I say that we absolutely do not deserve for our generosity to be met with entitled attitudes and demanding behavior. You wouldn’t yell at the grocery store clerk because they were offering a free sample and then giving you a coupon to make a purchase of the product. So why do some people think it is okay to send a nasty email complaining that while offering something for free, we are also promoting ourselves and our businesses by offering you a discount to make a purchase?

It isn’t okay, and it is my hope that by shining a light on the entire design process, this behavior will stop.

I know personally, I would make far more money from pattern sales than I do advertising revenue. I imagine this is the case for my designer friends as well. Just some food for thought, the next time an ad annoys you- the owner of that site relies on those pennies they get from each ad. Our hard work in publishing patterns shouldn’t be at such a cost that in addition to making very little money, we are also subjected to impolite feedback.

If you would like to know more about how ad revenue works for crochet designers, take a look at this article from my friend Marly Bird

If ads bother you too much, please consider purchasing the pattern from the designer instead. Then you don’t have to deal with the ads AND you’ll know that you’ve made a hardworking crochet designer’s day by supporting their hard work!

Respecting Copyright isn’t just the right thing to do, Its the law.

I came across a post on Social Media the other day that completely shocked me. A crocheter who does a nightly live stream where she sits and crochets recently completed a shawl from a pattern she purchased. The shawl is absolutely gorgeous, and everyone wants to know where they can get that pattern. Unfortunately, the designer has taken the pattern down temporarily, so it is unavailable. I’ve been seeing commentary online for the past couple of weeks about this particular pattern, and as I understand it, many crocheters have reached out to the designer asking her to make the pattern available again- and it sounds like she will be in the future. This isn’t what shocked me though.

This crocheter made a post about how cruel people were being to her, saying that she is rude for not sharing the pattern because they aren’t able to get it. She has been harassed by multiple crocheters, being told that she is selfish for not sharing this pattern! Why? Because she has integrity and respects copyright. She didn’t design the pattern, she purchased a copy for her own use and does not have permission to share that pattern with anyone else.

I was telling my husband about this, and he was also shocked. Then he said something that was obviously true, but somehow I had never put it together- crocheters sharing patterns is exactly like the days of Napster when folks were sharing and downloading music illegally. Sure, the music artists are all millionaires so we perceived it as not hurting them, but in reality, sharing crochet patterns is NO different. An artist created something for the world, and that artist should be paid for their work, plain and simple.

I reached out to this crocheter and thanked her for her integrity, then offered her a couple of my patterns as a gift because despite the way this blog post may have come out sounding, I am a very nice lady who loves to crochet, design patterns and share them. I just no longer have it in me to be nice to people who are not kind to me.

If you would like to check out this lady’s work, she operates under the name Amelzing Stitches and you can find her social media accounts here. We chatted for about an hour and a half over social media and I am proud to know call her my new friend.

Bottom Line- Be kind, appreciate the work a designer does, and don’t steal.

If you have spent the time to read this whole post, I greatly appreciate you. It took me a month to write this post and be brave enough to actually share it, because I know that this level of honesty may be offensive to some people. But as I have stewed about whether to post this, I realized that the people who quit following me and unsubscribe from my newsletters as a result of this post are the people with whom I don’t want to do business anyway. If anything in this post spoke to you, please share it with your crochet friends. As a whole, the crochet community is a large network of the kindest, most supportive people and I would love nothing more than for this post to inspire everyone to appreciate the work that all crochet designers do- not just me.

All this said, I do have a brand new pattern coming out in a few weeks, and it will be a “Forever Free” pattern here on the Straight Hooked blog, complete with a new tutorial video! Be sure you have subscribed to the Straight Awesome newsletter so you can be among the first to know when the pattern is released.

Until next time,

Happy Hooking!


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