Friday, September 26, 2003

Inspired

Thank you so much for your kind comments and encouragement. Your thoughtful (and complimentary comments) really do keep me going on days when it would be easy to hang it up.

I especially agree with all of Georgiana's points and came to the same conclusions myself in my last incarnation as a knit designer (15 years ago). When I returned to knit design 3 years ago it was with the understanding that designing was the easy part of the job - marketing, placement and follow-through are the hard parts. I, too, approach hand knit design as a more-flexible-than-the-average part time job (even though the hours I put in set me WELL below the minimum wage in my state)

Contrast knitting, though, with something that is more traditionally 'male' oriented and you'll see that those who turn their hobbies into a job are much better paid when the customers are mostly men. I think men are trained to be more realistic in asking for what they're worth and in paying for something that is important to them. Not that women can't be this way, but we get an awful lot of societal conditioning to be 'nice' and 'sweet' and give away what a man would sell.

Hence the HUGE amount of knitters who are so happy and proud to get a sweater accepted by a magazine that they'll take peanuts (or nothing!) for their work. It's difficult when you're so flattered that you'll be in print to think about the folks who are trying to earn a living designing and will lose out when you accept very little money, thus lowering the base price for all designers. This is not a slam on internet mags like Knitty - which is tremendous and a wonderful boon to the knitting world! Knitty's designers aren't paid, but that's a choice we all make (and are happy to make) to have so much control over our designs when Amy publishes them.

As a matter of pride I have set prices on my designs. If a magazine is interested and can't pay my fee (and this fee includes the rights to the design for a set period of time, a sample garment, and - most important - instructions written in at least 3 sizes) I will work with them - I realize that not all magazines have large budgets. I don't mind giving folks a break on my prices when they need one, but I want them to KNOW it's a break and not think that I'm a pushover or selling my designs too cheaply out of ignorance. I'm happy to be generous - but I don't want to be a patsy.

This is yet another reason that an active guild for published designers (with an internet presence and a set of guidelines for magazines to follow in relation to pricing and expectations on designers) would be a very welcome addition to the hand knit design landscape.

I have thought about selling my patterns and kits (note the list of links above to my website...) but I haven't been as dilligent as I might be in marketing my stuff to yarn shops and providing new items in my product line. Your comments have me thinking that I should:
  1. Take a few of my designs that haven't had any interest from editorial and break down, purchase the yarn and knit them up (finances have prevented me from taking this step, but it's necessary.)

  2. Perhaps hire knitters - something I've been loathe to do because it's by working up my samples that I really develop a good understanding of the tips and tricks that make a design fun to knit. Also, I knit so quickly - but I'm becoming overwhelmed with the amount I need to do.

  3. Somehow hire a technical editor to review my patterns so I feel comfortable offering them (I'm a good designer, but a BAD proof-reader!)

  4. Develop a marketing strategy that allows me to reach the potential audience of yarn shop owners (so far I've been concentrating on the wide world of internet knitters, but I see that I must branch out.)
In the past 3 years I've been working on raising my profile, developing teaching techniques and trying to determine exactly WHAT it is about my designs, knitting & style that sets me apart and prevents me from being superfluous.

I've also been working on a series of booklets on Finishing, Borders & Edgings, Colorwork and Cabling. I started making them up so I'd have good teaching resources, but they're turning into much more than I could teach in a 2 hour class. Trying to give them a uniform look and create swatches and charts to illustrate all of my points has been a challenge, but an excellent learning experience, too! I'm currently writing an article on creating lace edgings for Cast On and that may turn into part of a lace booklet, too. And, as always, I'm trying to put together a good book on knitting millinery and another on knitting handbags (the latter seems overdone in the past few months...)

And yet I sit here wondering if another set of books on knitting is really necessary.

If any of you are interested in seeing advanced pdf copies of these books so you can offer suggestions I'd be happy to send them to you. Email me to let me know which you'd like to look at.
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