Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I'm flattered (I think...)

So a few days ago I got a nice email from a publicity person at Interweave Knits who informed me that in a Knitting Daily poll, Sideways Spencer came in among the top 11 (an odd number, which makes me think perhaps it was #11...) The email continued (emphasis is mine):
On January 30 we plan to announce the opening of the voting period among our finalists to narrow down the field to the Top Five Patterns, which will be published in a complimentary eBook titled The Best of Interweave Knits - The Readers Choice Awards Collection, available in Spring 2008 for a limited time as our gift to our loyal readers and fans. All finalists will be honored in the eBook, but only the Top 5 patterns will be published; the eBook will only be available for free download for four weeks, after which it will be permanently stowed in the Interweave Vault.

Should Sideways Spencer be voted by readers into our Top Five, do we have your permission for one-time electronic rights to publish the pattern in this limited edition eBook? By participating you are not giving away any additional rights and weĠre not asking for exclusives. You will be paid $400 for the one-time re-use of the pattern (the sponsor is calling this prize money).

I am flattered - really. I'm thrilled that folks like the design and make the effort to tell Interweave Knits. And it's very savvy of IK to take advantage of the average knitter's desire to re-investigate designs they may have missed - good strategy! But my problem is, they're giving the pattern away. As I said in my reply:
This is very kind of you, I'm flattered -

If you were offering to sell the pattern, I might say yes. But once something is given away for free, it loses it's intrinsic value.

I can't let that happen to my creative and intellectual property, regardless of what kind of press or publicity this may garner.

If you were to give away this pattern, you would - in effect - be taking mortgage money out of my bank account. Something that hand knit designers can scarcely afford (especially these days...)
Timing is Everything!
It's especially ironic as I've been toying with the idea of reworking Sideways Spencer (one of my favorite sweaters), working it up in more sizes and simplifying the instructions. (Similar to what I did with the Circular Shrug from VK, when I rewrote the instructions to 'universalize' the pattern so that you can use it with any yarn for any sized woman.)

My way of writing patterns is different than a lot of other folks, and there had been some problems with the IK pattern which sprung from my own oddball pattern writing style.

I think I've corrected this in my new version, which I'm calling Sideways Spencer Redux. I'm in the process of knitting up a new sample now, as a matter of fact.

Don'cha Wanna?
(sorry, you canna... I have my 25 knitters, ye bonnie lassies!)
So - because I wanted to get 50 other eyes on this pattern before I repackage it and sell it on my website - I've opened up another free test pattern giveaway. This time I've sent the pattern to the first 25 folks who emailed me, with the understanding that they are NOT to email, copy or send the pattern to anyone. Mums the word!

It's NOT a free pattern, but a way for me to exchange what I hope is a fun knit for some good comments & critiques from a self-selected bunch.

No pressure, no rush, no deadline! Just let me know what you find, tell me if you're enjoying the knit, and have a good time. And so you can determine whether this is a good knit for you, and as a sweet little c'mon for the non-free pattern... here is the first page of the pattern with the pertinent info...

And soon - oh, please, very soon - I'll have the new sample finished and the pattern up for sale!
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posted by Annie at


Anonymous KnitSix said...

Hi, Annie,

As a writer, photographer, and knitwear designer "in training," I agree with you COMPLETELY. No one should ever expect to receive another person's creative/intellectual property for free.

It's hard enough to earn a living as an artist. When our creations are free, we run the danger of sending out the messages that: (a) we don't value our own Work, and (b) artists don't deserve to be paid for their Work. That's why so many of us grew up believing in the myth of the "starving artist." Most artists I know--including musicians, sculptors, painters, fiber artists, and writers--agree, and feel a-little-to-a-lot of resentment when others expect free access to their Work.

That said, I have posted several free patterns on the Web, but that's because they're very basic and I'm a new/unknown designer. I fully expect to charge for my work as I grow and become more experienced.

As a writer, though, my days of writing for free ended when I left my college newspaper.

I'd love to take a look at your revised pattern, since I really like the original :-) (Also, expanded sizes are always a nice touch for those of us who are more than a bit...ahem..."busty.")

Thanks so much...for standing up for creative rights and for sharing your own gift with your fans.

Best wishes, Hannah Six

January 23, 2008 5:32 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Oh please yes, I'd love a copy of the pattern -- but again, I can't find your email address to write to you about it! sigh.... I'm going blind, I'm sure it's there somewhere

January 23, 2008 5:33 PM  
Anonymous Laura aka Lazyraven said...

Hi Annie, I never left comments before, but love your designs and your blog. I'd love to test run the Redux, but didn't find an e-mail address in your links(I could have easily missed it though). If you still have a spot, my e-mail is llundin at mtaonline dot net . I'd love to participate. Thanks,


January 23, 2008 5:34 PM  
Blogger Kelley said...

I really like that design! It's one I must have passed by before, but it's great. If you are still looking for test-knitters, I'd be happy to help out!

Good for you for standing up for what you believe in.

January 23, 2008 5:44 PM  
Blogger nonsie said...

Can I be your test knitter, please? Pretty please?;)

January 23, 2008 6:17 PM  
Blogger Annie said...

To those who didn't know how to get a hold of me, click on "Don'cha Wanna?" above...

January 23, 2008 6:24 PM  
Anonymous said...

Send that sideways spencer along to me. I would love to test knit it.

January 23, 2008 6:37 PM  
Anonymous Linda L. said...

LOL! Here I dug around your sites to find your email, not knowing the "Don'cha Wanna" was a link!

Trust me, I'm a better knitter than I am a clicker!

~ Linda in WI

January 23, 2008 7:03 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I would love to test knit! Stay warm, Annie!

Laura near Duluth, MN

January 23, 2008 7:04 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Annie, I think it is absolutely your prerogative as a designer to decide what seems right and fair to you in distributing your work. I'd like to understand, though, what the problem is with Interweave offering you $400 to put your design in their ebook. Is this different than if they'd offered $400 to put the design in a printed magazine? They said they didn't want additional rights, so I assume the ebook business would not prevent you redoing & selling the pattern yourself. Sorry if I've misunderstood the terms - I find this topic very interesting and you have given it a lot of thought, so I hope you won't mind the question.

January 23, 2008 7:40 PM  
Blogger Annie said...

Hi Lisa,

I'm happy to answer the question -

Once a pattern is given away, free, especially in an electronic format (online or as a pdf) it is virtually impossible to sell the pattern.

I like to think that most knitters respect copyright, and wouldn't copy a pattern to give to friends that they'd purchased. But once it's been given away, it's like putting the genie back in the bottle.

All someone has to do is go onto a list or forum and say, "Can I get a copy of that free IK electronic book from someone?" And knitters - being very kind - will say, "Of course, and it was free so there's no copyright problem!"

I've learned from sad experience. Once something is given away, it's pretty much useless to try to sell it.

So in that case, rights mean not so much. They would have diluted the rights so much that they're worthless.

January 23, 2008 8:05 PM  
OpenID noethsusieq said...

i would love to try this pattern.

January 23, 2008 9:04 PM  
Blogger Joan K said...

I would love a copy of this pattern. I think its a great design.

January 23, 2008 9:11 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Thank you, Annie, that makes eminent sense. I am a (very) amateur knitter, but a professional software developer, and there are many of the same concerns, arguments, and opinions about ownership and creativity in software that I've seen in crafting blogs recently. My viewpoint is slanted towards the electronic, so it's great to get my mind expanded to see another viewpoint.

January 23, 2008 9:41 PM  
Anonymous shannon said...

If you still have room, I would be honored to test knit the pattern. I am an adventurous beginner and love to try new things. You can email me skyyblue[at]tds[dot]net. I admire you as a designer and totally agree with you about the situation and I hope that everything works out. Hope to hear from you! :)

January 23, 2008 9:52 PM  
Blogger WandaWoman said...

I always loved that pattern and I actually still have that issue of IK. However, I am glad that you are rewriting the pattern to include more sizes. I will be glad to buy it once done.

January 23, 2008 11:29 PM  
Blogger Amber said...

Smart woman. Rework it and sell it yourself if people like it that much. Most definitely. I look forward to seeing what changes and size ranges you refit it to. Since, while I own the original mag, I'm always curious to see what a fellow designer deems as worth changing or reworking in their own patterns :)

January 24, 2008 8:26 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Annie, I appreciate your candor and thoughtful writing about patterns and selling them. As a knitter who primarily knits from patterns the nature of the design process (and how it lasts longer than the final pattern printing) isn't always at the front of my mind. However as a marketer who has been involved with IP throughout my career, I am always cognizant of copyright laws. I enjoy the free patterns I find, but also buy many more than I get free and never feel that it isn't right to "have to pay." I'm looking forward to seeing the pattern redux!

January 24, 2008 8:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No reason to think you were #11. I bet they just had a tie somewhere in there.

January 24, 2008 8:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd love to test your pattern!

Reenie in NJ

January 24, 2008 2:34 PM  
Blogger Sometimes Unwilling Guru said...

Im looking forward to seeing the
Image of this design,sideways knit? I could also offer to test it but being in Australia I may have a wee bit of trouble finding the approppriate yarn for your design!Not saying our gorgeous fine wools are unsuitable but you may have a different type in mind!!
PS I wholeheartedly agree with your stance on the rights of the pattern too and think maybe IK and the like take designers for granted which seems silly when you are their "bread and butter"?

January 24, 2008 4:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess what I'd like to know is why IK keeps putting out the free patterns anyway. This is not a slur against them...I love having access to the free patterns (I'm knitting the modern quilt wrap now) in pdf form, even when I already have the pattern in the magazine or in one of their books.

I'm just wondering how it serves their bottom line, which is of course what editors always concern themselves with.

Maybe I should ask on ravelry!

January 24, 2008 6:12 PM  
Anonymous speedknitter said...

Hi Annie,
Let me have the redux pattern to test knit it for you?? I would appreciate some yarn buying advise while we meet at the Knit-Out?
Dear regards....

January 25, 2008 5:06 AM  
Blogger tercumenette said...


January 28, 2008 2:00 AM  
Anonymous siki? said...

thanks for contribution. very nice and useful article..

June 08, 2009 8:56 AM  
Anonymous estetik said...

thank you

July 27, 2009 10:25 AM  

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