Sometimes you cook, sometimes you get takeout

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.

One month in

Somehow (and please do not ask me how, it certainly wasn’t my idea) we’re just over a month into the new year.  And we’re exactly a month out from the morning I sat down at my computer and took my whole ravelry shop down for a giant organizing and tidying spree.*

It was scary (selling stuff on ravelry is how I pay my bills).  And reformatting and relisting things is a massive project (I’ve got more than 280 patterns…revisiting them all is daunting).  But it has been so so so satisfying.

Since that morning in January, I’ve brought about three dozen individual patterns back out, brought all the big books back out, made the individual patterns from Silk Road Socks available, and released two brand new patterns.  I’m working on bringing more patterns back every week, working on bringing more individual patterns from books out, and of course continuing to bring out new patterns.

I know ravelry can be a tiny bit overwhelming (So Much Neat Stuff…all in one place), so I just want to do the tiny reminder that you can always find everything I have available there in one place right here.  If that gets to be too much to scroll through (like I said, I have rather a lot of patterns, so that page is only going to get longer), you can also check out my bundles over here.  That’s where I have things like ‘all the tiny patterns‘ or ‘all the hat/cuff patterns‘ or ‘socks and slippers‘ or ‘all the books‘ grouped together to make it easier to narrow down what you’re looking for.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take a few minutes to revel in this glorious snow storm we’re getting, then settle down and see what else I can get back out this week!

*Here’s the bit where I mention how there are a tiny handful of very noisy chowderheads who are somehow still mad at ravelry for having said ‘you can’t be openly racist here.’ I am pretty sure I’ve already invited all those folks to see themselves out.  But just in case any of them are still hanging out and are getting excited thinking I’m one of them or that I’m leaving ravelry, let me just put that idea down right this second.

Ravelry is amazing. It’s run by some of the bravest and most ethical people I’ve ever had the pleasure to know.  I love ravelry.  I never intend to leave ravelry.  I’m just doing some housekeeping.  Any chowderheads are welcome to go be mad about it somewhere else.


Dispatch is out, it’s 10% off with the code POSTED, and you can have a whole stack of them knit up by the end of the week.

So I’m always torn between talking about the practical stuff (how it’s made, what yarn you need) and the fun stuff (what to do with the awesome little things).  But the fun stuff is, well, more fun.  So let’s start there.

From what I’ve heard, a whole bunch of you are planning to use these to slip notes or cards into and send them off with your kiddos or sweethearts, either as valentines or just because.  This is unspeakably adorable and I love everything about it.  Please do this and then bask in the glow of being both cool enough to tell people how you feel about them and organized enough to plan for it ahead of time.  Because really that’s awfully nifty.

It looks like the next most common plan is to make these as a way to give folks gift cards or cash, but make it feel a little more personal.  Which I think is an absolutely lovely idea.  Because really, there are times and places where cash/a gift card really truly is the best thing you can give someone (I promise that’s what pretty much all the college grads and young newlyweds really want), but somehow it’s not as much fun as wrapping up a more traditional present.  This totally fixes that.

I suspect most folks will do one of those things with them, and that’s lovely.  But I have heard from a few people who are going to do what I think of as competitive level cuteness.  That’s things like advent calendars, and envelopes for the tooth fairy or Santa, or stacks of these with snap on stamps so your kid can play post office, or a garland for over your desk.  And to you, I tip my hat.  You are the best possible kind of inspiring, and you make me tired just looking at you!

As for the practical bits, lets jut run those down quickly while we’re here, just so we can say we were thorough.  Each envelope takes a few dozen yards of yarn, a bit of contrast yarn or thread if you want a postmark, and a button (make sure kids are old enough for buttons if you’re giving them to little ones). They’re mostly just stockinette (worked both flat and in the round), and they’re a quick knit (each one took me a couple of hours to finish).  The pattern comes in three sizes, and you can work at any gauge, so you can make them anywhere from ‘smaller than a business card’ to ‘bigger than a paperback book’.

If you need a stack for yourself, the pattern is Dispatch, it’s up on ravelry, and you can take 10% off with the code POSTED for the first few days the pattern is out!

And now it starts to get tidier

So, we had the messy middle part.  We made the patches.  Now it finally starts to look better.

After sending the patches through the washer and dryer a few times (because if they’re going to shrink, I want them to shrink *before* I sew them on my sweater thank you very much), I pinned them to the sweater.  Then I held the fabric stiff and still with an embroidery hoop and started sewing.  I picked a column of stitches on the edge of the patch and duplicate stitched over every other stitch in the column, then over a random scattering of stitches in the middle, just so the patch and the underlying fabric would be held together.

Once the first one was done I did it again, making at least a token effort to line the two patches up so they happened at the same place.

More pinning, more stitching, and in no time they were both on there. And now I have a sweater that should happily last another year or two at least.

This is the bit where I tell you, fairly sternly, that you can do this too if you want to.  It’s not hard (make new fabric where the fabric is missing, reinforce spots where the fabric is getting thin or frayed).  You can google ‘how to mend’ if you’re feeling really nervous, but really I think it’s probably safe to just jump in and experiment.  Almost everything you’d do as part of mending is reversible (you can pick it all right back out if you don’t like how it’s coming out), and if you were going to throw the piece away anyways, you’ve got very little to lose.  Plus when it works out you get to feel absurdly smug.