Craft | Transparency in Knitwear Design, Knitgrrl’s Patreon Project

Rye Socks. Pattern by Tin Can Knits in Malabrigo Rios Teal Feather

Scrolling through Ravelry, you come across two patterns, one free and one pay per download. The free pattern isn’t as nice as the pay per download pattern but that 8 – 10 euro pattern (with currency conversion) seems a little steep. So, you talk yourself out of the pattern and click the free download. But have you ever asked yourself why that paid pattern deserves that fee?

All Patterns Are Not Created Equal

In all honesty, not all patterns are created equal, some pay per download patterns are frankly not worth the charge but some most definitely are. How can you tell the difference? Ravelry is fantastic at keeping things transparent on their pattern pages, you can see how many people have made the pattern in question and the comments of what people thought of the pattern can be found either on the forums, project pages or comment pages. Sticking to established designers is always a safe bet as they usually have a free pattern or two displaying their work.

The Experiment

But why do the patterns cost so much? It always makes me twitch a little when I hear this question floating around knitting groups. Knitting patterns are incredibly labour intensive and costly to produce. From technical editing to photography, test knitting and charting, this all has a charge. In episode seven of the podcast, I chat a little about Shannon Oakey’s Patreon Project and why I think it’s such a good idea.

Shannon’s idea is this:

” I would like to try a radical experiment in 2017. We’ll release a pattern every single week of the year and document the money side of things from every possible angle. How much the patterns REALLY cost to produce (photography, tech editing, sample knitters), and how much we earned from straight up pattern sales on Ravelry, how much we earned here on Patreon, who got paid and why.”


I know this project takes a little blind faith as you don’t know what patterns you are paying for but this Patreon is more about the experiment and following the costs involved as much as it is about the finished patterns themselves. You can see the patterns emerging from this experiment here and you can read Knitgrrl’s blog post here. If you are interested in how this industry works and comes together, taking part in this experiment even for a short time will allow you to see exactly where your money goes.


I am not against free patterns, they have their place and I’ve used them myself. They are a fantastic way to promote and reach new customers but I would like to support the designers who create these fantastic designs that I wear. Here at the cottage, I usually bounce between using paid and free patterns, chatting about both online. At this moment on my needles are Erea from Emma Wright (paid), Lifestyle Toe Up Socks by Charisa Martin Cairn (free) and a Fade and Flip Shawl by Amanda Schwabe (paid). If anything, this project opens up the discussion on pattern charges and shines a light on the costs and actual work that it takes to get a professional pattern on the market.


What do you think of the Patreon Project? Let me know in the comments


Pin It on Pinterest