Why pattern sharing is wrong!

Fuss Free Festival Shawl

Fuss Free Festival Shawl

Pattern sharing is theft!

There we go. A simple statement but one which I absolutely stand behind. In some circles I am aware that this might be greeted with a sharp intake of breath and sideways looks but as a designer who makes a sizeable chunk of her monthly income from direct pattern sales I feel compelled to point it out in no uncertain terms.

I was somewhat taken aback the other day to receive a private Facebook message asking me to copy a pattern I was using and post it to the messenger. They assured me they were more than happy to pay for postage to cover my expenses. In fact, now that I think about it, the request wasn't even couched in terribly polite, or apologetic tones. There was no "would you mind terribly..." or "I'm so sorry to bother you but..." Just a simple request that I copy the pattern and post it to them please.

I don't recall exactly what I said in response but I think I was polite (just) and firm in my assertion that I support the copyright of the original designer - whose published works are freely available for purchase.

It got me thinking though about the way that designers work these days and that maybe there might be a gap in perception between what indie designers do and how they earn their keep as compared to the big commercial yarn companies.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that there is a significant difference between a large commercial yarn company who produces patterns almost as a loss leader to support the yarn the pattern was created for. Indeed, not too many years ago there was a yarn shop near my parents house who would refuse to sell you a pattern unless you bought the accompanying yarn with which to make said pattern. The large companies almost certainly treat the patterns they produce this way, if not as disposable assets, but at least of secondary importance to their main aim - which is the sale of the yarn.

In the world of indie designers things are very different. The majority of us sell our patterns direct to the public, often via a 3rd party such as Ravelry or Love Knitting. Once Paypal, Ravelry fees and VAT are deducted that money is ours to do with as we will, whether that's to invest in new charting software, pay website fees or get the cat wormed!

For every £5 pattern sale we lose through someone 'sharing' a pattern with a friend that's money taken directly from our monthly income.

The issue which really got my goat from the original request was that the person concerned was more than willing, anxious even, to reimburse me for my time and expense is sending the pattern, but didn't give a second thought that the person who put all the hard work into designing and writing the pattern didn't deserve any recompense at all.

Like all things, it comes down to education. The more we educate people about how independent designers work and the more they come to appreciate the help and support they can get from the independent community then hopefully, they will be more prepared to support us in future.