So what is up with Kristin? I began working in the needlework/knitwear field in the 1980's. I have been a Creative Director, written a few knitting books, designed hundreds of sweaters, mittens, hats, scarves etc., travelled to many great knitting fairs and conventions, and knit and sold some very good yarns. I have even been a Knitting Expert on PBS TV for several seasons. I've had my own signature yarn - 5 times. But frankly, I am not very interested in designing handknits right now. It's not that I am done with it forever. I guess I am taking a break. I was passionate about knitting for a very long time. And it was my job. Right now I'm not feeling the passion. I am still being creative - just not with sticks and string.
A couple months ago, a google doc began floating around the internet about pattern sales via Ravelry in the month of August. You can look at it here. Things have changed so much in the world of hand-knitwear design. The internet happened and knitters were one of the first groups to latch onto its power. Then came Ravelry. And it changed more.
I came up through the ranks of working for a yarn company. I started working at Classic Elite Yarns as the Creative Director in 1984. I loved my job and had passion for the knitting industry, for my co-workers, for my colleagues, for the yarns and the colors, for the challenges that it all offered. For years, I swatched new yarns at night in my off hours - like my co-workers Cathy, Linda, Lori, Pauline, and Susan (sorry if I missed someone). We would write the patterns, find knitters to make them and then have a photo shoot for the knitting patterns. This is how it worked in those days. Designing was just a small part of each of our jobs. We wore many hats. I loved it. I had many great opportunities. I saw the world. I learned Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Indesign. I learned about business and life. I learned about marketing as I went. Sometimes I miss my old life - the structure and the camaraderie.
Once I went freelance in 2001, I began designing for myself for the books I was contracted to do. I had always dreamed of being an author and I was thrilled to be able to pursue that dream and actually get someone to print my words and ideas. The publisher would give me a small advance I would swatch, write the patterns, find someone to knit the designs I didn't have time to do myself, help with the photography, do illustrations and then the book would be in the hands of the publisher. Once it was ready to go out in the world, I would promote the book. Those books are still in print and I cannot do anything with the patterns that are in them. All those designs - and there are a lot of them - are basically stuck in books and I have no right to them until they go out of print. Twice a year, I get a teeny royalty check or a notice that I still owe the publisher my advance. Knitters aren't buying knitting books anymore if you haven't noticed. Most publishers are only printing books that are technique based, not pattern based. Or they are doing books with yarn companies that act as part promotional and they do not have to give advances for or pay design fees for (as far as I understand that arrangement).
When I wrote my last knitting book - Color By Kristin: How to Design Your Own Beautiful Knits (published by Soho/Sixth and Spring), I pretty much said all I wanted to say in the world of knitwear design. I wrote a book that gave 26 different classic and timeless projects along with scads of color work knitting charts and edgings. I gave the instructions for knitters to personalize these designs to become their own. I also instructed knitters on how to design their own color work charts. I consider that book Color By Kristin my magnum opus. Color by Kristin is still in print. Knitters have to buy the book to get the patterns. And that is too bad because knitters now want to only buy one pattern - not a book. My designs are stuck in that book and I do not have the rights to publish the patterns myself. And so - like many of my good designs that are in books or lost in the pages of knitting magazines that were recycled many years ago, my best work has become obsolete.
I have continued piddling along putting out a pattern here and there for my website and Ravelry. When I released my latest pattern I sold a total of 36 copies of the PDF via both my website and Ravelry. That is $216. And for that $216 I knit 2 sweaters, photographed the pattern after begging my friends Will and Shalee to use their children Emme and Marlee as models (I gave them the sweaters), wrote and sized the pattern, desk top published the pattern using Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Indesign, and Acrobat. And I paid Paypal and Ravelry commission.
|Available for $6.00 on my website or Ravelry
Now maybe it wasn't the greatest sweater. It was a classic design and maybe too similar to others out there. But I'm not going to second guess that. I presumed that because it was very knittable and the type of design people love to make, I would make some decent money from on-line PDF pattern sales. I didn't have a sweater like it available on-line. The many classic designs that I did design are owned by the yarn company I used to work for and they get the pattern sales revenue. (Some magazines do pay the designer a small percentage of the sales of the on-line pattern sales. Yarn companies do not pay designers past the initial sale of the design).
So I was wrong with that last PDF Kid's Easy Aran Design. Really wrong. It wasn't worth the time I put into it to do all that work. The lack of sales of that pattern made me re-think if I did want to keep writing patterns and putting them for sale on-line. Was that the way I wanted to spend my time? Was it worth it?
The yarn biz has changed so much. I'm older and definitely not the hot young thing anymore. (That is an understatement.) I don't even know who the new designer of the moment is and I really don't care. I don't like to knit lace nor do I understand why so many people are interested in knitting lace shawls. Seriously, how many can you have? And socks? I just don't get it. I'm not interested in joining groups on Ravelry and interacting with people I don't meet in person. Boy, do I sound like a grump which I really am not. I do not think I have ever once looked at the Hot Right Now Pattern Section on Ravelry until today when I was working on this blog post. Did you know that there are now 274,008 handknitting patterns now available on Ravelry? How does anyone actually decide what to knit, or discover anyone new? I knit what I want to - not what others are knitting. I don't have the energy to become some kind of internet knitting star. I'm not interested in twittering my every stitch. I get tired of the self-promotion that is necessary to sell the knitting patterns. I find it too difficult to travel to far-off places to teach knitting because of my family and farm responsibilities.
As I have gotten older - I have also realized that my time is getting shorter with each year. I need and want to do the things that make me happy and fulfilled as a creative person. If you are still here - I know this has been long - then you know I am still interested in designing all kinds of colorful and beautiful things, just not knitting right now.
I am loving hand-printing fabric. I am loving painting pictures. I am loving embroidering fabrics. I am loving gardening. I am loving making pottery and painting it. I am loving cooking and enjoying my home and family. I am loving my family and our life here in western Massachusetts with all our animals. I don't really know what the next creative phase of my life will be once I finish the current book I am working on -- Crafting a Patterned Home -- but I can't wait to see what is next for me. I hope you all will keep reading even though I am not knitting much right now.
I hope this post will open up some conversation within the knitting and creative world. I was spurred to write it after listening to this Crafty Planner podcast with Diane Gillead of the Craftypod blog and podcast. Listen to it if you get a chance. You can still buy my books via my website here. And my knitting patterns here or on Ravelry here. I will be grateful.
I would love to hear your thoughts. Where do you buy your knitting patterns now? Do you ever buy knitting pattern books? Do you only knit from free patterns? Do you follow the "hot knitters"? Do you follow knitters on Twitter? On Facebook? Or do you just like to knit to knit and could care less about what everyone else is doing? Are you a knitwear designer? What are you thinking about it all?
Added 12/6/16 - Let me make this clear - I do not hate Ravelry. I do not hate sock knitters or lace knitters - I'm just not interested in that kind of knitting nor do I understand the fascination it has for others. I am not sad or unhappy. The world changes and life goes on. I am moving on too and super excited about what the future will bring - different opportunities and lots of learning for me. I wrote this post for my many friends and followers who knit to explain why I am not designing knitwear anymore. Never did I think I would have hit such a nerve nor so many would have read this post. It is good that people are talking and I am happy I helped with the conversation.
Here are some of the patterns I have designed in the past that are available from me as PDF Downloads. I will receive the money for the pattern because I published them. I appreciate every sale. I've included links to where you can buy them on my website and on Ravelry. It really doesn't matter where you buy them from - Ravelry graciously doesn't charge much of a commission so if you like keeping your patterns there - purchase through them and add them to your library.
Description is below each photo.
Kristin's Colorful Christmas Stockings - 5 designs - one color/row - available on my website here or Ravelry here. $12.
Kristin's Creative Christmas Stockings - 6 designs, multiple variations - Available on my website here or Ravelry here. $12.
A Dog in Sheep's Clothing - A Pattern in 8 sizes for dogs or lambs - available on my website here or Ravelry here. $6
Farmgirl's Stocking Cap - sized for kids and adults. Available on my website here and Ravelry here. $6
Quarters Cap - Sized for babies to adults. Available on my website here or Ravelry here. $5
Olympia's Felted Flowers - available on my website here or Ravelry here. $6
Heart to Heart Mittens - 2 designs, several sizes - Available on my website here or Ravelry here. $6