Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Designing minds

Before I get to the "meat" of this blog post, I'd like to give a little background of why this is on my mind today.

I'm a member of a loom knitting group on yahoo. It's a large group that produces more postings then I'm able to keep up with so I don't read or post often. But I did manage to check on Sunday night (I think it was). There was a question on how to do a technique that is in one of my patterns. No one else had posted the info on how to do the technique, so I answered. I also added that since I don't check the group postings often, they could email me directly - this is because I might miss a question posted directly to me. From this, came a discussion about why I (or any designer for that matter) should charge for patterns. These few felt that since we were all member of this group, we should share with one another. (I'm not sure how the discussion went there, but it did.)

Rather then fuel the discussion on that board, I'm taking the liberty of posting my thoughts about it here. If you prefer not to "hear" my thoughts, stop reading now!

My first thought was that these few people must be the same ones who corner doctors at a party and ask for free medical advice. But since my Mother always told me that my smart mouth could get me in trouble, I will not comment further about that.

My next thought was...Gee, these people must donate their time at their work place! If being a part of a group means we should share our expertise, then it only makes sense!! Oops, I believe that's my smart mouth again.

Seriously, perhaps these people just do not realize what goes into writing a pattern. So I would like to take a little time to explain it.

First comes an idea, a vision, whatever you want to call it. I also have the ability to visualize some of the "how to" - so I work some of the mechanics out in my head.

Then comes the drawing, the swatching (in fiber designing), the measuring and math to determine how to get there from here.

With the knitting loom, also comes the "how in the world do I make that happen when I'm limited to the amount of pegs on this thing!" So there are times when I take a piece of paper, cut it up and fold it, bend it, tape it together, whatever...to see how it might work. (Similar to making a sewing pattern.)

Then comes some fun time - the actual knitting. Most of the time, this also involves a lot of frogging when the vision and the actual piece do not match up.

Once you're lucky enough to have it all come together, you then have to come up with the words, diagrams, charts, whatever...to explain to someone else how to do the same thing. I'm better at teaching it so I struggle with this part.

All of this takes days! Weeks! I have one pattern that I'm still working on and it has been almost 2 months Of course, I haven't worked on it daily...probably only 3 hours per week but still when you think of how little the charge is for the pattern, it will work out to LESS THEN 1 cent an hour. Would you work for that? Of course, not. But since it pays for more yarn, and I'm addicted to doing this stuff...

Tell you what....you let me know what your expertise is, and if I want or need something you provide, we'll barter services (products).

BTW, here is another thing you can do with the loom -

For those who may be too young to know, that's a peace symbol.


Isela: Purling Sprite said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly :). Being there, read that, answered it and right now thinking about it.

even if the pattern is as easy as knitting a tube, the writing of it can take eons to accomplish, especially if you are trying to answer all the questions that the loom knitter may have while she is knitting it.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure in some circles your 'mouth' might get you into trouble, but in my opinion, your witty and intelligent response to a question asked in ignorance raises you up a bit.

Kathy N said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for so very much for your kind words. ;-)



I agree, I also design, was working on a pattern book decided I was never going to finish it, because of all the work it entails. So charge away, since your designs are yours, it's your creative right.... Don't worry the newbies will acquiesce to your knowledge and wit. LOL...


Tonya said...

As a budding designer I can easily understand your frustration.
YOU explained it well imho.
Donating some time is one thing but giving away days weeks or even months and years of work who would seriously do that....No one.
Share patterns you design along the way to peak interests of others sure, but give it all away...that's just plain daft.
I thought of sharing one of mine but then I thought if I do that then there is no point at trying to peddle my patterns for sale.
By my nature I want to say sure here they are all free, but from a practical standpoint even designers have to eat and have a place to rest their heads.
I support you whole heartedly!

Sorka said...

Man! Bloglines is messed up ! I just got your post updates! Sooo with you on this one!
Oh and I love the place!! too cool!