That Was Easy…or The Real Cost of Knit Design

I have been designing professionally for, I don’t know, more than 5 years. The first professional design I did was Lilly for Louet Sales. Since that time, I have learned a number of things about items we take for granted in our knitting. Like Sheet Protectors. Our handknitting pattern leaflets come enshrined in sheet protectors, waiting for us as we dream and scheme our next project into something we are actually going to start and knit.

All sheet protectors are not created equal, I can tell you that. What I have found is that the box may say they are clear, but that is not necessarily so. Make sure it doesn’t say non-glare if you don’t want a pebbled texture (making the visual of the picture less clear through the sheet protector). Of course, that is not always the case. I bought a couple hundred Samsill Standard Weight Clear Polypropylene acid free archival quality sheet protectors after having some defective ones from Staples (more on this later). They are pebbled, and a pain to insert pages into (being quite literally tighter than a very large woman’s girdle). I ended up using these for personal use rather than for my patterns, as I won’t use something on my product where I would feel like I am putting a lesser quality (even in sheet protectors).

The trouble started a number of months ago, when I had pattern leaflets that were sticking out by as much as 1/4 inch past the top of the sheet protector. They did not start out that way out of my box of 200, but as I continued to stuff leaflets into sheet protectors, it became apparent that they were defective. I took them back to Staples and got a new box. When I got home, I had the same problem.

I returned, and went through 6 boxes in the store before finding 2 that were not defective. Taking random samples out of a box of 200 so I can be reasonably certain that I don’t have a bad batch is not my idea of productive time spent. But. I had orders to fill and not time to experiement on a comparable product that I had not used before.

When I was at Staples yesterday, I talked with the gal who helped me before. She had sent an email to the Staples Brand folks who replied that they were aware of the problem, and that she was to sell the product through. Wouldn’t you want to know if there might be a problem with the sheet protectors? I would want to go through them and send back the ones that are defective and not leave that to the consumer. Well, if I had someone who had to go through that many boxes I would. Sell the product through.

When I talked with the Staples Brand folks via the phone, I am assuming that the person I talked with was not familiar with the sheet protectors, as he did not know if there were any problems. I told him that the odds were not in Staples favor that it was an isolated thing. I had had that problem 6 different times over the course of 1 year, and had two occassions where I had to go through multiple boxes (6 the first time and 4 the most recent time). The odds of it being a fluke with me are, well, I won’t go there.

I posed the question to the Knitting Design list that I belong to (as in what do you use for sheet protectors), and am still compiling results. I am off to Office Depot and Sam’s Club to pick up a couple of the suggesstions. I am also web searching to see where I can get the best deal. You know, those sheet protectors are not cheap. The price for them has risen a lot over the last 5 years. In large part, I think, because of the oil industry.

 I will let you know the results of all this: the favorite sheet protectors of my peers (and you as well, if you send them in), where they get them, and what is available online. Not a big big project, but an interesting topic for another day.

Meanwhile, I am tossing the easy button. Don’t get me wrong, I love Staples sheet protectors. When they are not defective. They are nice and clear, a nice weight, they look nice.  I can easily insert a pattern in it that has 5 pages including the cover. But I need something more reliable.

See, anyone who thinks designing doesn’t have grubby type grunt work needs to think again. There is a lot to this business that is as simple and boring as office supplies. Each dime for me (just as you) makes a big difference in the long run. Maybe the difference in cost for sheet protectors is 5 cents. That nickle won’t buy much on its own, but multiply that by 200 and you have $10. Multiply that by how many packs of 200 count sheet protectors a designer goes through in 1 year. Ouch! And that is just one part. Toner, paper, whatever you use for photography, and on and on. I know $5 seems like a lot for 1 pattern to some folks, but it really is a good deal. The designer gets anywhere from 30% of that to 50%. $1.50 to $2.50 has to cover a lot of things, things that are more than just the paper, toner, and sheet protector. It has to cover the cost of developing the pattern (time spent drafting, writing, charting), photography, tech editing (if you pay someone to do this), test knitting, utilities, software, computers, office supplies, gas, wear and tear on the vehicle, shipping materials, wages for the designer. It truely is a labor of love.

Peace and Knitting, JoLene


2 Responses to “That Was Easy…or The Real Cost of Knit Design”

  1. Mike Burgess Says:

    I like your analogy to the ‘grunt work’ of designing. I shall remember that when a client asks what they are paying for and why it is costing so much. Thanks!

  2. JoLene Treace Says:

    You are welcome! There really is more to the cost of doing business than folks honestly realize.

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