At the moment it seems like every other day there is some new outrage on Instagram.
I enjoy using the social media platform – it helps me to connect with customers, like-minded business owners and keep up to date with a variety of craft and cultural interests.
At times it can be a force for great good such as the recent debate about inclusivity. This provoked many of us to analyse our own practises and make improvements to ensure that people of colour have their voices heard within the knitting community and those of us that are privileged use our privilege to help them, not undermine them.
But, sadly like any form of social media, it is open to abuse and misuse. I refer to the ongoing furore regarding pattern pricing.
I have been thinking about what to say about this for several days but have struggled to find words that will do it justice.
For those of you that haven’t been following the discussion, it seems that some Instagram users have used the platform to call knitwear designers ‘greedy’, arguing that they charge too much for their patterns, excluding those on lower incomes.
Despite having designed knitting patterns for sale, I do not consider myself a ‘knitwear designer’. At most I dabble, my main fibre related talent lying in indie yarn dyeing.
However, having ‘dabbled’, I understand the huge amount of time, work and effort that goes into knitwear design and I have to say, an average price of £4 per pattern does not seem unreasonable to me. A designer would have to sell many, many patterns at such a price to recoup the actual cost of their creation.
So, it is quite heartbreaking to see designers feeling as if they have to justify themselves to customers by detailing all kinds of personal and private events, to show that they are not being ‘greedy’ nor that being a knitwear designer is a ‘choice’ or ‘privilege’.
There are many reasons why people find themselves in a creative industry and I speak from experience when I say that more often than not, it is not the path that they originally set out on in life. However, personal circumstances – loss, tragedy, illness, disability – may have contrived to push them in that direction.
I think it is unkind and unfair that designers have been put in a position where they feel they need to give a financial breakdown of their business to ensure transparency, particularly when set against such personal circumstances.
Now, I could choose to share what led me to create Baa Baa Brighouse, I have touched on the circumstances before in other blog posts though not in any great detail. I could give you a financial breakdown to justify the price point of certain patterns for transparency’s sake. But I won’t.
The reason being that the circumstances that led me to Baa Baa Brighouse are personal and I will share them if I ever feel ready to, not because of a minority who are unable to look past the importance of their own lives. Secondly, so far as financial transparency goes, let me say this – I do not take a regular salary from Baa Baa Brighouse and haven’t done so since the business was started in 2014. Instead, I plough any profits back into the business to grow it and it is, slowly and steadily.
I think ultimately my advice for knitwear designers is this – don’t feel as though you have to justify what you do or how much you charge to anyone. You know what your work is worth and if others don’t appreciate that, then that’s their problem.
Pick your fights. There is so much to fight for at the moment but pattern pricing doesn’t need to to be added to the mix.
There are days when I’d quite like to wander round Brighouse dressed in Chanel but my budget won’t allow it and that’s fine, there are plenty of alternatives. The same goes for knitwear patterns. There is an abundance of free patterns available on Ravelry and there is always something for everyone in the Baa Baa Brighouse Sale – it isn’t exclusive.