Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Do Knitting Patterns Always Get More Expensive in a Recession?

Is it my imagination? Or have knitting patterns been getting more expensive recently?
deer hunting
Back in the day, when Ravelry was all new and shiny and some of us were still mourning the weird turns the yahoo UKHandknitters group had taken, it was fairly unusual to buy an individual pattern online. Single patterns were available in shops but they were printed and rare.

Then came Autumn 2008 and Twist Collective launched. And I remember thinking two things...
  1. Wow, some of these designs are gorgeous.
  2. I'll just click on this to see how much it.....HOW MUCH?!
Back then it was rare for me to buy a pattern that wasn't in a magazine or book and the only online ones I tended to use were on Knitty. How things have changed.
July 12 2009 patterns 007
If you take a look back at my post on The Most Popular Patterns (aka The Top Eights) you'll notice that none of those patterns are from printed magazines and I can't see any from books either. They are all single patterns you either pay to download or get for free.

I have been spending a seemingly endless amount of time on Ravelry in the last few weeks looking for patterns for swaps, gifts, friends, ideas - you name it. And it has come to my attention that more and more of these patterns are for sale and that therefore (dur) fewer are free. Not only that, but a number of patterns that I would have expected to be around the $5-7 mark are now up around $9. Once again I find myself seeing a lovely pattern on Ravelry's only to find when I click on it that I'm once again saying to myself "HOW MUCH?!".
Pav Surprised
Having thought about this a bit I have concluded the higher incidence of paid for patterns must be down to one of three reasons.
  1. When your everyday knitter started publishing their patterns a few years ago they were a bit timid about not being a "name" and so didn't feel confident asking for money. Now that pattern publishing is the norm - hey, even I've done it - these people do feel confident in putting a price tag on.
  2. Everyday knitters are no longer publishing out of pride or love for their fellow knitter. They are now more market focussed and are publishing specifically to earn some money.
  3. Everyday knitters do still love their feelow knitter but are also more aware of fair exchange - a fair price in exchange for their effort. 
But this still leaves us with the price increase. Inflation has been at about 4% in the UK for the last three years so that would lead a $7 pattern in 2009 (which I still think is pretty steep) to be a $7.87 pattern in 2012. Is the extra dollar a sign that more people are looking to knitting to bring in income they may have lost as a result of the recession? (My take home pay has shrunk in value by nearly 10% over the same period as a result of pay rises - when I got one - not keeping pace with inflation.) Or is it designers feeling they are heading more towards what they deserve to be paid, rather than what the market will accept?
Part of the reason I've been thinking about this is because I have once again been thinking about putting some more patterns into a suitable format and passing them on to an unsuspecting knitting community. I've been exploring software to help with this and am currently tending towards KnitWare from Jigsaw. I looked at SweaterWizard and Intwined and while they both look interesting they didn't quite have what I was looking for plus the Jigsaw one is cheaper. And in a recession one has to take these things into account.

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