I go through a lot of patterns. I always have a project going, and when I’m excited about that project, I can’t wait to get it done. Most of the patterns are free, simply because there are so many available. I appreciate these free patterns immensely. But I have bought, and will continue to buy, patterns, collections, or books that contain designs that I want to make.
It’s important to realize that great patterns have value. A lot of time and effort went into producing them, and that is something that is easy to take for granted when so many are free.
This topic has been on my mind for quite a while – even before I started posting here. Although I am not a pattern designer, I understand how difficult it is to create content, and I strongly believe that the people who make that content deserve to be compensated.
As someone who uses content (in this case, patterns), I have come across many different types, both free and paid. Despite the fact that I could stay busy forever making projects from free patterns, there are many reasons why I won’t rely exclusively on free patterns. Here are the main ones, for your consideration:
- Because you can get results you won’t get from other patterns.
If you have been crafting for a long time, many patterns start to look the same. But every so often, you will come across a pattern that is undeniably clever, well-constructed, and unique. In this case, it’s not too hard to see why paying for the pattern is a necessity. You just won’t be able to find anything quite like it available for free.
I have come across many patterns that meet this criteria for me. Lollo the African Flower Bear immediately came to mind – it is just such a smart use of motifs, and the results are truly stunning. The pattern is detailed almost to a fault, with photos of most of the steps. The result is a hugely informative resource that makes it almost impossible to fail when trying to make the project. Some may balk at the price – at the time, I paid $10 for just this pattern alone – but in my mind the work that went into the pattern makes it well worth it.
- Because a high-quality pattern makes the hobby more enjoyable.
I want to preface this point by saying that there are many free patterns with wonderful instructions. I am constantly amazed by the amount of patterns that are available at no cost to me. Many of the best ones are published by yarn companies that (I assume) commission or buy these designs for their pattern libraries. This is a win-win-win situation: The designers are compensated, the crafters get well-designed patterns, and the companies get a boost in web traffic and product sales by providing the patterns at no cost.
With that being said, however, many of the patterns that you can find for free are, well, less than wonderful. That may be because the pattern was written by an inexperienced designer who doesn’t have the skill yet to create a truly aesthetically pleasing design. It may also be because the pattern’s instructions are unclear, or riddled with errors. If you are using an older free pattern, the terminology may be confusing or inconsistent.
High-quality paid patterns have, in most cases, taken hours and hours to put together. They are tested, re-tested, and tested again. Every row or round is checked by the designer, a pattern tester, or maybe even a technical editor. If any errors are found after the original publication, errata is made available. This means that by the time you start the pattern, most of the “kinks” have been worked out and you’ll be able to enjoy a (hopefully) frustration-free project.
- Because talented designers (and the people who help them!) deserve to get paid.
Imagine working for days or weeks on a project that, while you found enjoyable, was at times frustrating and tedious. It would be incredibly difficult to do all of that work without the expectation of some kind of monetary reward at the end. That’s why I have no problem spending money on a project pattern that catches my eye.
Patterns aren’t just the work of the designer, either. Although I’m sure many designers work on their own, others have partnerships with pattern testers. Pattern publications ensure that their patterns are up to their standards by employing editors. Those people should also be compensated for their time and effort.
- Because you want more great patterns in the future.
Everyone needs to pay the bills, and that goes for the people who write our patterns, too. If they are not getting paid for the time spent on creating patterns, then they will have fewer incentives to create those patterns. When there is a market for their patterns, then designers will have the ability to keep doing what they love while making ends meet – or at least earning a little extra income. And we win in the end, too, because we’ll be able to enjoy their talents through the designs that we get to enjoy.