Why Good Patterns are Worth Paying For

Crochet Pattern Book

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.

Lollo African Flower Bear Pattern

  • 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.

Doily Pattern

  • 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.

9 thoughts on “Why Good Patterns are Worth Paying For”

  1. I couldn’t agree more — There’s nothing like clear, easy to follow instructions. Definitely worth the nominal fee (I’ve not seen many that are more than $5 or so). Completely worth it! That being said, I’ve actually paid for some that *should* have been free. Where, clearly, the work put into writing the pattern did not reflect the amount I paid (even at $5 and under). That was back when I was an amateur pattern-purchaser, though. I’ve since become skilled in recognizing a quality pattern vs. a not-up-to-par one.

    Great post!

    1. This is a very good point – a paid pattern isn’t automatically “worth” its monetary value. That’s why I’m so grateful for resources such as Ravelry, and for user comments on patterns elsewhere, so I know what I’m getting into before I buy! Also, free patterns available from the same designer are very helpful so I can get a sense of what to expect from the patterns that require a fee.

      1. Good tips! I look at designers’ free patterns NOW before I pay for one by them, but it took me a little while to figure that out lol.

        And Ravelry is,one of the best things to happen to the fiber community! Love that site!

  2. Very well said and as pattern designer OF COURSE I agree. My main reason for designing patterns i charge for is to motivate people to make this world a better place. IF people realize HOW MUCH help can be given with their crochet work— or any creative work for that matter, I am SURE people would work on something while they watch TV. I just stared in February, but I had my first fund raiser with 8 teens , who wanted to go to Guatemala on a mission trip. They sold 48 patterns, which gave them a cash flow from my patterns of $180.( I rounded up for the last 2 $3 per pattern). That money gives them the cash advance to buy advertising for their sales event, materials and they have some left over. I can’t wait how much money they will make on their comedy talent show on the 20th. Everybody has a month to get ready for it, making the items.
    Payed patterns are different, because they are tried and worked over many times, unlike the ones in magazines, which may or may not turn out. For me it is difficult to work with computer and I constantly loose something, but I also make my patterns collectable and fun to work with. I am sure in a while I will get the hang of it completely and it will be awesome to see, what God can do through this whole enterprise of pattern making.
    In my case , I do not need to pay the bills with this- praise God- else I be on the street by now. I work as nursing assistant in home of wealthy elderly people, which allows me to have PLENTY time to crochet and compute. My boss thinks it is comforting to watch me make something and is eager to see something finished.
    You seem to be awesome talented in knitting AND crochet. I have been doing knitting and crocheting all my life— never even remember when I learned it. But guess what: I only recently learned about following and writing patterns. I always just looked at the picture and most of the time it turned out exactly like the picture. My Mom did the same thing and most of our lives we didn’t even know there is such a thing as a written pattern. I also study people just learning how to crochet, because that way I can relate to difficulties beginners have. Each person does things differently and sees things differently, what is EASY for one, is complicated for another. This is really fun, except on occasion, when my patterns disappear on the computer or get “stolen” by others.
    I am interested in your next project. Can’t wait to see. Be blessed!

    1. Thank you for sharing your insights and for your kind comments! It’s wonderful that you are using your talents to fund good work. That’s one of the things I love about activities like these – everyone can find different ways to channel their creative energy.

      I too crocheted for years before I finally figured out how to read a pattern properly. It certainly opened up a wealth of possibilities. I would love to try my hand at designing my own in the future, but there are so many great patterns written by others that I would like to try first!

      1. Very good. If you ever want to design, the first thing is attention to detail. Write down each and every step you do and look at the process from the eyes of a beginner. That will send you well on your way to designing. I am looooong winded and detailed, but that causes less question, when the person has the pattern in front of them. Just thought to let you know for your future ventures. I love you blog!

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