Another Brick in the Wall

We are in the throes of beginning to remodel our house. The old girl is around 100 in the oldest part. One of the things that will be done will be my studio. Currently I have a room upstairs that is too small (small old bedroom) and I have yarn scattered through the house.

Needless to say this takes lots of energy.

On the design front (I have not been totally sidetracked by getting this off the ground) I have recieved some lovely yarn from Alchemy and will be doing a lace pullover in their Silken Straw. I recieved the swatches back and will be posting more on the design as it progresses.

I am just about ready to send another design, Sweet Clover, off to a test knitter. This one is with Interlacements Colorado, which is a spring and summer type yarn. It is a blend with some rayon in it, so it has a nice sheen to it.

This design is the first one that I have done with set-in sleeves. Not semi set-in, but a “real” set in sleeve. I had to add a page to my excel spread sheets for the number crunching on this. I don’t know how many of you have heard of “The Knitter’s Guide to Sweater Design”, by Mary-Ann Davis and Carmen Michelson. This is a really great book, and one I refer to. I have a number of others that I have been perusing. I printed graph paper last night to the guage of the design, and charted out the front neck shaping and armhole shaping (which I always do) and then I charted out what I had figured for the sleeve cap shaping, so that I could measure the sleeve cap and compare that to the measurement for the armhole and make sure they fit. I did not have to do a lot of adjusting, and I was happy with that. I will also be looking at some of my other books that refer to drafting and design, to see if I want to make any final changes.

It is amazing how much time some of this takes. I often tell people that it takes me a good week or two weeks to do the numbers, even though much is done in spreadsheets, and put it into a pattern. I have areas built into the spreadsheets so I can make adjustments for where I want the stitch pattern to break, or tweak it where it needs special attention.

People still think that $5 is expensive for a single pattern, and I suppose that will always be the case. I forget how many individual patterns I need to sell before I break even on a design. In all honesty I try not to think about it more than I need to. I design what I would love for myself, and I do think about costs including my time in producing the pattern. My time is not free (we often think of our time as being free, but in truth it is not) and that is a cost that has to be factored into the cost of producing a design. If I spend 40 hours working on a design, that is 4o hours worth of wages that I should recieve at some point. Other costs include paper supplies, computer programs, ink and toner and so on. These things are all part of the cost of doing business and if there is not enough made on an individual pattern to cover these costs, then eventually one cannot continue to pursue the business.

It never ceases to amaze me how underpaid many designers are in the knitting world. I am not sure why that is, if it is a function of small budgets, not being able to pay what they are worth, or what it is. And many times the ones doing the paying want the copyright too, thereby making it impossible for the designer to make a profit on their work. I like it when publications or vendors can be creative in their compensation if they are not able to pay what a design is worth (as in, don’t ask for the copyright if you cannot pay what it is worth). For example, a publication was seeking easy projects. They were paying in the area of $100 for the project, and they wanted the copyright. For the type of design work I do, this compensation would be giving the work away and all rights to it including future earning potential.

As part of the benefit to the designer they stated that they would give the designer nationwide exposure in supermarkets and bookstores (this was not any of the major knitting magazines). The other option was to let the designer keep the copyright and not be compensated. The designer would still have the exposure, and the copyright. For me this would be an option to consider if I were to do something like that, as I could then use the pattern later in my own line, on my blog, or in my newsletter. I need content for those things anyway, so it would have a value added worth to me.

New designers can be so excited and happy to have someone love their work that they are happy to give it away just to see it in print, or they are happy to work for very small amounts to get their foot in the door. In truth a balance between this and a decent pay for your work is best. At least in my opinion.

We are all dependent on each other. The knitter who doesn’t do their own thing depends on the designer for designs. They also depend on the magazines for patterns. The publishers depend on the designers as well as the knitters. The designers depend ultimately on the knitter, as the knitter is the end consumer.

One year at Stitches Midwest (when it was still at Saint Charles), I went to a lobby area to sit and knit. As I sat there with a few other knitters, one started talking about a pattern she had bought that day from Black Water Abbey. It was one of my patterns, and they were all surprised that I was sitting there knitting like they were. We had been chatting for over an hour before they new that I was a designer. One of the ladies thanked me for being a “regular” person. I was happy to be where I was, and happy to share in our common experience. We are all regular people…I feel honored when my designs are choosen by a knitter, as that represents quite an investment on their part. An investment of time and energy and passion.

We share our love for knitting and have that common bond, and I thank you for letting me be a part of it.

 Peace and Knitting, JoLene


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