Friday, February 06, 2009

Valuing Our Work

I've written about this scenario in the past, and I'm afraid I'm going to bore some of you with the same sad tale again. This is a long one, with no pictures...

If there's going to be a pool of high quality, established hand knit and crochet designers, there has to be an understanding among the larger powers in the knitting industry that these designers MUST be supported - or at least not taken advantage of as a matter of course.

My personal belief is that once a pattern is printed in a magazine, the rights to that pattern SHOULD eventually revert to the designer. This is how, for instance, Yarn Forward treats their designers.

The Back Story
Last year - right around this time - I wrote about Interweave Knit's announcement that they'd be opening an online pattern store. They stated that designers of patterns IK chose to sell in the store would earn 10% of sales. Ten Per Cent. Heck, that won't pay the rent!

This seemed incredibly small to me, so I didn't sign the agreement and mulled it over for a while. I sell my patterns online, why would I sign a contract to undersell myself, AND get only 10% back into the bargain?

In talking with other designers (why do the magazines think we don't chat with each other?) it became clear that we fell into two camps:
  • Those who thought this was a raw deal,
  • and those who thought it was raw deal, but felt they couldn't change it, so they signed up anyway.
I didn't expect much when I wrote about the issue on my blog, I was pretty much just blowing off steam. But my post attracted enough attention that the powers at Interweave began to reconsider their position. They were gracious enough to open up a dialog and eventually they created a much more fair sliding scale of payments.

Now when you purchase a pattern at the Interweave online pattern shop, a designer earns between 20% - 50% of the purchase price.

All The Way To The Bank
What difference could this make? I just received my check for pattern sales for the past 3 months. It was $600 [yay!]

Because I also offer my patterns on other websites, I only earn 30% of the pattern price, so this figure reflected $2,000 in pattern sales. IK keeps $1,400, I get $600. If I sold my online patterns exclusively with IK, I'd get a bigger cut. Additionally, if I had a link on my website to IK's pattern store AND sold exclusively through them, I'd earn 50% of the pattern sale.

However, if the 10% IK originally offered was still in effect, my check would have been a measly $200. That would have been wrong, and I'm very glad that IK was designer-friendly enough to make that change.

In my perfect world, I'd like to see online compensation for designers set at 50% across the board, and I'm sure deep down Interweave would have liked to have kept the compensation closer to 10%. However, since neither of us got our way, I think it's a good deal.

It's certainly MUCH nicer than the original offer, and Interweave has gained many very enthusiastic proponents of their online pattern store (including me!)

More important, designers who may have been hesitant to design for IK are happy to submit, and that makes the magazine - and the knitting world - better for all of us!

Times Are A'Changin'
In the past year several designer-focused entities have popped up, The Stitch Cooperative, Ravelry's pattern sales feature, Twist Collective & Etsy pattern sales, to name a few. The web-savvy knitter has many more options for buying patterns than just the original big knitting magazines, and the smart magazines are understanding and embracing the change (and respecting their designers.)

Here We Go Again...
But now the issue has reared it's ugly head again with another of the big knitting magazine groups - once again in an email which was probably supposed to be positive, but only ends up sounding a bit patronizing.

In November I received this email from Soho Publishing, the entity which produces the family of Vogue Knitting books and magazines.
Dear Designer:

Due to the increasing demand for online content, publishers are now able to reach a broader audience and better serve that audience by making their print content available online. Soho Publishing Company is excited to announce the launch of our web-based initiative, which will allow us to offer the content from our print magazines (Vogue Knitting, Knit.1, Knit Simple and Family Circle Knitting) in digital format. Specifically, we will be reselling patterns from past and present publications as downloadable files, accessible via the Internet.

What does this mean to you? As one of our valued designers, you will receive a ten percent (10%) royalty on all net revenue received from the resale of patterns designed by you. While Soho contractually has the right to reuse this content without further payment to our designers, we appreciate the value our contributors bring to our product and sincerely wish to maintain a relationship based on respect and good faith. All royalties will be paid annually (one time per year) by August 15th for all sales through June 30th of each year. These payments will be made in check form and will be mailed to the address provided by you.

In order to receive your ten percent (10%) royalty payments, please fill out and return the attached form by March 1, 2009 to verify your correct mailing address. Without this information, Soho will be unable to issue and mail your annual check--we want to be sure your payment is heading to the right place!

Thank you for sharing your talents with us, and we look forward to seeing more of your work in the future, both in print and online.

Very truly yours,

Once again, I sat on this for a bit.

90%?? What Are They Thinking?
Each company has different contracts, and to be honest most designers are just so darned glad to get something into a magazine like Vogue they'll sign a contract and not read the fine print.

There are a few notable exceptions, but once a the cycle develops (designer submits, yarn is sent, contract is sent, contract is signed, etc.) it's hard habit to break.

Vogue's contracts have always been a bit less designer friendly than Interweave's (IK traditionally asked for 'first North American serialization rights') but many of us figured that this was the price we paid for getting into Vogue.

Also, at the time that many of us started signing the Vogue contracts, no one really expected there to be an alternative method for selling our patterns independently online, so that wasn't covered in the contracts.

And, fools that we were, we signed away our rights.

So What Now?
I give Interweave a HUGE amount of respect for addressing this issue in a fair way, I'd like to see Vogue do the same thing. All I'm looking for is a little respect. And 20-40% more back on sales.

I don't know whether Vogue was unaware of the arrangement Independent Designers had worked out with Interweave, but the above email sounds a bit like, "We own the pattern so we don't legally have to do anything in terms of payment. But we like you, kid, so here's a dime. If you want to cry, go call your mother."

Well, I can't call my mom. And I can't change the contracts I've already signed.

But I can blog.

The Hard Part
I can't think of many things harder for a designer than saying, "No, Big Knitting Magazine Company [BKMC], I won't sign this contract because it's unfair and and I refuse to give all the rights to you in perpetuity."

But it's exactly what I - and a few other designers - have decided to do.

When I read the email above I made the decision not to submit anything to Vogue until their policy toward ownership of intellectual property becomes more designer friendly - more enlightened.

With this blog post, I realize that I'm most likely nailing the door shut as far as ever having anything in Vogue again. But I feel that it's vital that knitters - and especially other designers - know that there are OPTIONS to the contracts we're offered. We do NOT have to accept unfair contracts we can negotiate. And there is strength in numbers, folks.

Designers earn just a hair more now for a pattern than they did in the mid-80's. Factor in cost of living, and we're earning less than we did 20 years ago. Add to this the latest slap in the fact - 90% of internet sales revenue will go back to the magazine - and we, as designers, realize exactly how much we're valued. T E N P E R C E N T.
[Let me hear you, loud and proud!]

If Vogue wants to RE-sell one of my patterns, perhaps the popular Twisted Float Circular Cocoon Shrug (cover, Fall 2005 issue), they should pay me a fair amount. (On a side note; I've entirely rewritten the pattern so that it's universal and can be worked up with any yarn in any size, and I offer that substantially augmented pattern on my website for sale.)

If Vogue sells the Circular Shrug, is it fair that they keep 90% of the income? What if they decide to offer it free as a come-on to get new online subscribers? At that point they've effectively destroyed any future sales of the pattern I offer on my website - who will ever pay for something once it's been given away for free? And I get precisely 10% of nothing.

Folks, I don't say this for sympathy or pity, but we hand knit & crochet designers earn garbage. This is due to many factors, including:
  • We allowed it to happen
  • There are many who are dying to get into the mags
  • The mags know they don't HAVE to offer a fair compensation
I say this because I really don't have a lot to lose in this fight - but I have a lot to gain. And not just for me - but for every designer out there who would like to pay the mortgage.

Fish In A Barrel

In a recent online chat Trisha Malcom, the editor of Vogue, mentioned that VK visits the Ravelry designers forum regularly to seek out new designers. Of course they do, the more established designers are becoming tired of the unfair contracts, or can't afford to work for peanuts, and the new designers are just so darned happy to get published they'd give their work up for nothing.

I know, I've been there.

What Do We Want?
I'm asking other designers to stand with me and only accept contracts in which we retain all rights to our designs after the initial publication.

When Do We Want It?
Ideally this should start with the next contracts that go out. I'd be happy if something can be worked out by the March 9th date given in the email above.

After a certain period, rights should revert back to the designer. Period. If a magazine wants to run a design again in a "Silver Anniversary Issue" or "Best of" book, the designer should be paid. (I wasn't even aware that my Twisted Float Circular Shrug WAS in Vogue's 25th anniversary issue until a friend emailed me to congratulate me.)

Now, Raise Your Right Hand...

"Today I pledge that henceforth, I will only sign contracts that allow me the freedom of determining what happens to my intellectual property after the initial publication."

And To You New Designers...
This is also a plea to new designers; I know where you're coming from, I know you want to make a name for yourself, but please consider that if you really want to do this as a career - if you're in it for the long haul - you'll be in my situation very soon.

I realize that I'm in a unique position - I'm an established designer who's had work in Vogue Knitting as far back as 1984, but I also have a web presence. This is unusual, and may be why we haven't heard much about this online from other established designers who don't have blogs or sell their patterns independently online.

It's only been in the past few years that designers have been able to network online, and we're getting stronger.

Believe me, new designers, if we don't fight this battle now, we'll be paying for years. You don't want to look back in 5 years and say, "Geeze, why didn't someone stand up and ask for a fair contract years ago ...?"

Be part of the solution - be part of the change. Please support your fellow/sister designers by working with me to teach.
  • We must explain to the knitting editors that if they prize our talents enough to use them to sell magazines, they must respect us enough to send us fair contracts which allow us to determine the ultimate rights to our intellectual property.

  • We must teach the knitters who buy the magazines about the contracts we sign, and the rights we give up. To my mind, this is all part of the copyright fight - a fight in which Designers have been so beautifully supported by knitters all over the world [thank you!]
In Closing
I realize by writing this post I'm not just holding the knife, but may be pulling it squarely and firmly across my own throat. So be it. As I said, I don't have a lot to lose.

If one can't earn a living as a hand knit designer by going with the flow, then it's time to swim against the current.
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posted by Annie at


Blogger Dawn Brocco said...

Go get 'em Annie!

I haven't submitted to a mag in many, many years, but what happens in that end of the design world affects all designers, in others' perception of our worth, and therefore, willingness to pay a decent sum for our designs, whether published in a mag or being sold by ourselves.

February 06, 2009 11:35 AM  
Blogger somebunnysloveDOTcom said...

Fabulously written as always. HUGE kudos to Eunny and her team at IK for working with designers. I do think Soho Publishing is definitely taking advantage of new artists, and plan to write a little discussion of it. =:8

February 06, 2009 11:37 AM  
Blogger donna said...

I'm not a designer, but I am so glad that you are willing to openly voice your dissatisfaction with companies that disrespect the hard work that designers put into their creations. Please continue to be that strong voice. You Go, Girl!!!

February 06, 2009 11:45 AM  
Blogger Pixiepurls said...

We all do love IK don't we? They certainly have the edge over vogue for the past few years, they are just more internet savy, after all they hired Eunny and she is plugged into that sort of thing because of her age and experience as a blogger and self-publisher.

I have thought about submitting to magazines for a while now but have not yet, and it is very good to read your perspective so I can better understand what I would be getting myself into. If IK put kids patterns in it's mag I would have submitted to them ages ago.

Thank you for this, it was very interesting and informative!

February 06, 2009 11:46 AM  
Blogger Amy O'Neill Houck said...

Bravo, again, Annie--as one more designer who has pledged to take control of her intellectual property, I'm thrilled to see you using your platform to spread the word. Even tho' it sounds familiar, I'm afraid this isn't the last time the issue will come up, but I'm hoping for success!

February 06, 2009 11:54 AM  
Blogger organicstills said...

Great post. I'm relatively new to designing, but have the good fortune to work in music contract law and see horrible contracts on a daily basis. I know how easy it is for somebody to get the short end of the stick because whatever contract is being presented is always going to favor the person that wrote it. Unfortunately, the big publishers have the advantage because they know that most designers aren't going to argue with their terms. It's great that you're putting this information out there so that people can learn and hopefully negotiate a fair cut in the future.

February 06, 2009 12:01 PM  
Blogger alisonc said...

Annie, I'm behind you!

February 06, 2009 12:01 PM  
Blogger Annika said...

I am a new designer just beginning to consider submitting work for publication. There is no way I would consider giving away more than first serial rights and I am so grateful that there are established designers - mainly you - fighting for everyone's rights here.

On a related note, may I ask what you think of publications like Pop Knits where designs are released under creative commons? (Pop Knits may be the only publication doing so; I'm not sure.)

February 06, 2009 12:14 PM  
Blogger Lothie said...

I just went to your site and purchased the twisted float shrug pattern, even though I have that issue of VK, because I know you've improved it, and HELL, just to make a statement!!! Go Annie!

February 06, 2009 12:20 PM  
OpenID kmkat said...

Brave woman, you. You certainly have my support; I'll renew my subscription to IK and once again NOT subscribe to VK. Go, you!

February 06, 2009 1:17 PM  
Blogger Leah Vanessa said...

Bravo! I'm a newer-ish knitter, but not a designer (yet). This post is very informative! Thank you!

February 06, 2009 1:20 PM  
Blogger Guido said...

Annie... your my hero...

February 06, 2009 1:24 PM  
Blogger Geek Knitter said...

I'm not a designer, but I've always admired their work. I'm with you on this, go get 'em!

February 06, 2009 1:28 PM  
Blogger Jenny said...

So, I admit to only getting half way through... but here is my promise to you.
I will not purchase, for free or otherwise, patterns from Vogue until I have heard that this matter has been cleared up.
I am a consumer who LOVES a good deal, and certainly would prefer free, but this is a Wal-Mart effect that only hurts the core of our community. I vote with my dollars on organics, local foods (from actual farmers) and local independent community businesses.
I'll get my patterns direct from the designer even if for a higher non-free price tag, or I'll find something else to knit. This is completely unacceptable and I certainly hope they get their act together.
Thank you for standing up for your rights, and for those designers who are lesser known and don't have your clout.

February 06, 2009 1:50 PM  
Blogger Cyndi in BC said...

Go Annie! I'm right there beside you. I haven't published in magazines but I totally believe in treating designers with a little respect (and money) :)

February 06, 2009 1:52 PM  
Blogger Krishell said...

I just wanted to add, YOU GO GIRL!!

February 06, 2009 2:12 PM  
Blogger Ysolda said...

This is very timely for me, I turned down an offer to submit a design to VK today for exactly these reasons. I was told that they weren't willing to negotiate the issue of returning rights, I doubt they care if I'm not interested in designing under those terms but maybe enough of us doing so can make a difference.

February 06, 2009 2:17 PM  
Blogger Clumsy Knitter said...

Thanks for going out on a limb (again) and posting about this issue. I'm not a designer, but I do like to be an informed knitting consumer, so it's nice to get first-hand information about the publishers I choose to support (or not).

February 06, 2009 2:26 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'm a new designer, and haven't submitted to any magazines yet in large part because of compensation. I know what my patterns make me when I sell them on my own, and I'm basically unknown. If I can get that much on my own, why would I agree to let them to pay me *less*?

Thanks for your posting about this issue. It certainly seemed to help with IK. Hopefully it will help with Soho, too.

February 06, 2009 2:29 PM  
Blogger CraftyDiversions said...

Bravo!! Annie, thank you so much for your courage, honesty and passion in sharing information such as this. I value my work, no matter what I do, and it is information like this from you and from discussions on Ravelry, that really helps me think hard about standing up for myself, especially as a new designer. I am happy to say that I recently stood my ground on an issue of giving all my rights away for a measly few hundred bucks. In the end, I was able to negotiate a one-time first publishing rights deal, and I get to maintain all other rights. I do and will continue to take your proposed pledge to heart. ~ Anne

February 06, 2009 2:40 PM  
Blogger CraftyDiversions said...

I posted a comment but don't know where it went, so am trying again...

Annie, thank you so much for your courage, passion and honesty. Information that you and other more experienced designers share on your blogs and on Ravelry has been wonderful. I value my work and the information I've learned give me extra confidence to take a stand, even as a new designer.

I'm proud to say that I recently stood my ground and turned down an offer to purchase a pattern for all rights for a very low-balled fee. In the end, I was able to work out a deal to sell a one-time first publication rights only. So, thanks again, and I will take your pledge to heart. ~Anne

February 06, 2009 2:47 PM  
Blogger Tina said...

You Go Girl!! May you be the leader in the chorus of voices calling out for justice!

Funny you mention the twisted float shrug... I'm finally getting close to the finish of it. I have about 20% left and am using the original pattern. There's a few things I might have done differently but am very happy to finally wear it with pride in both the design and the sweat equity I put into it!!


February 06, 2009 2:51 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Bravo. That was a very informative blog and quite eye-opening. I had no idea designers got so screwed and I commend you for standing up and making a statement. Now I'm off to your pattern store to get me some patterns =)

February 06, 2009 3:18 PM  
Blogger Ysolda said...

Thank you for the inspiration to speak out about this, after reading your post it was clear that we need to stand together.

February 06, 2009 3:30 PM  
Blogger OfTroy said...

thank you, thank you, thank you.

Vogue is a big company (and most designers are independent contractors.

they don't know what the going rates are.. they don't always realize what they are signing away (they don't have a string of corporate lawyers behind them..(i bet most don't even consult a lawyer before signing a Vogue contract --all they see is fame (and fortune!)

but if Vogue is retaining rights (when ever they can!--and clearly they don't always, because some designer do have rights revert to them--) then the fortune is to Vogue.

and designer get some fame--which they then can use to get contracts (if they can) to teach but they don't earn on their designs!

Thank you, thank you thank you.

February 06, 2009 4:06 PM  
Blogger Gudrun Johnston said...

Thank you thank you thank you for speaking up on the behalf of not only established designers but us newbies too!

February 06, 2009 5:00 PM  
OpenID knitsox said...

I am not a designer, but I am an avid knitter and I have to applaud you for helping those in the industry realize the value we knitters place on excellent designers and their work. I've been a Vogue subscriber for years, but will tell you that I have just let my latest subscription lapse. I have been been sadly unimpressed with the quality of the recent designs and the content of the magazine in general. I am, however, a very dedicated IK reader and will continue that subscription. Eunny understands where this industry is headed, gets that technology and social networking are HUGE components of today's knitting and fiber world, and, frankly, the designs and patterns in IK are just so much more wearable than anything I've seen lately in Vogue. Best of luck to you Annie as you blaze this trail. This is a serious business and it needs serious and dedicated business people like you.

February 06, 2009 5:02 PM  
Blogger Hannahbelle said...

I'm just getting started as a designer (only have a few things here and there, nothing that's been knitted a lot), but I'll make that pledge - if I get offered anything that isn't fair, I won't sign it.

That's only common sense, after all!

February 06, 2009 5:23 PM  
Blogger Angela said...

I am not a designer and am not likely to be one. However, this was a very informative post and I certainly can appreciate the desire to simply make a living. I definitely agree the idea that rights should revert to the designer after a certain amount of time. It just makes sense to me. I have learned our society as a whole doesn't value intellectual property and see it as a product of hard work.
Anyway, that's my very limited two cents.I am not a designer and am not likely to be one. However, this was a very informative post and I certainly can appreciate the desire to simply make a living. I definitely agree the idea that rights should revert to the designer after a certain amount of time. It just makes sense to me. I have learned our society as a whole doesn't value intellectual property and see it as a product of hard work.
Anyway, that's my very limited two cents.

February 06, 2009 6:01 PM  
Blogger Dodi Raz said...

I am not a designer but just wanted to say that I wish we will do what you did here in other areas of our life. I think if we start standing up and demand our rights the world will look much better.
Thank you!

February 06, 2009 6:03 PM  
OpenID Perri said...

Really interesting post, very enlightening indeed.

February 06, 2009 6:16 PM  
Blogger Bunny Queen said...

I knew there was a reason I preferred to buy directly from designers; thank you for stating the reasons so eloquently. I rarely buy knitting mags, as I would rather spend my money to buy a few really good patterns than a mag that has only one or two patterns that I will likely knit. After reading your post, I will definitely be buying directly from the designer when possible, from IK when not from the designer, and not from Soho until/unless I hear that their policies have changed. As others have said: I vote with my dollars. I suspect those votes are going to be far more clearly heard in the present economy.

February 06, 2009 6:19 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Thank you Annie for all you've done for the designer community by writing these blog posts. If it hadn't been for your post last year, I would have never thought I could stand up for my rights and negotiate. At this moment, I don't design hand knits full time because the money just isn't there to keep a roof over my head and eat! However, if designers stick together, I am hopeful that one day soon I might have the option to make this my full time gig.

February 06, 2009 6:22 PM  
Blogger Miss Ripley said...

Thanks for this informative post. As a knitter, I always want to buy the pattern in the way that is best for designers. I'm not a designer, but I will vow not to buy from Soho until they improve their compensation practices.

So many knitwear designers are women, and the cynical part of me believes Soho is just undervaluing womens work. Women are still so poorly compensated compared to men in many areas.

Thank you for speaking up about this issue, and I encourage other designers reading this to use their blogs to make it clear to customers what the best way to purchase their patterns is.

February 06, 2009 6:34 PM  
Blogger Northside Knitter said...

As a knit and crochet consumer, I have greatly appreciated the education that you are providing to all of us. Prior to your earlier post on this subject I didn't know enough about how the publishing process worked. Learning which publishers fairly value the talents of designers makes it easier for me to support those who conduct business in a manner that I like.


February 06, 2009 7:13 PM  
Blogger badmomgoodmom said...

I'm rooting for you, Norma Rae!

February 06, 2009 7:43 PM  
Blogger Scheherazaad said...

Kudos to you Annie for taking a stand and informing everyone of this situation. I was a knit designer in the 90s. I quickly realized that what publishers offered wouldn't pay the rent and took my career in the garment retail and wholesale direction. Since I was aware first hand of the unfair publishing contract situation I have never bought a knit pattern from a publisher online. I am glad to hear that Interweave has improved their stand but I still prefer to buy directly from designers when possible. Hold your ground. You have nothing to loose and your gain is immeasurable.

February 06, 2009 8:12 PM  
Blogger Cynth said...

"While Soho contractually has the right to reuse this content without further payment to our designers, we appreciate the value our contributors bring to our product and sincerely wish to maintain a relationship based on respect and good faith..."

Wow. They're practically taunting you with an implied "We can hire more legal counsel than your yearly gross income."

Your post is just in time, because I was just going to send in a subscription card to VK!

Instead, I will be writing a PAPER letter to VK explaining why I won't subscribe or buy their mag off newsstands anymore.

You are truly FTW, Annie.

February 06, 2009 8:14 PM  
Blogger Yarnsnob said...

Reading that makes me feel glad I watched Norma Rae today. Don't worry about Vogue, most of my friends prefer IK and other websites to them anyway.

February 06, 2009 8:23 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

What a well-written and well-presented argument. I do help that it helps to bring about some change.

February 06, 2009 8:32 PM  
OpenID indigodragonfly said...

As the head of an organization that supports artists in their efforts to build strong and sustainable careers in Ontario (, thank you for this! I'm not sure what the average is in the US, but the average income of artists, designers and craftspeople in Canada hovers around $10,000 per year. This doesn't come close to representing what artists (and make no mistake, I include designers in that catagory) ADD to the economy.

I've been really resenting Vogue Knitting for their lack of diversity in sizing of ALL their patterns. This just confirms to me that I've made the right decision in choosing to support designers through their own private pattern sales and through new collectives, such as the Twist Collective.

February 06, 2009 8:33 PM  
Blogger Sasha said...

You are a strong, ethical and inspirational woman Annie - Very well spoken!! :)

February 06, 2009 8:51 PM  
Blogger shoeboots said...

You're right. It's unfair to designers to somehow lose their rights and compensation from work because the large company can do it. And really, as a large company, they should be paying attention to what other mags are doing!

I haven't seen a whole lot of great stuff lately in Vogue, so maybe the designers are starting to voice their rights... or are going to Interweave!

Keep fighting the good fight, and I'll keep supporting you and designers who do!

February 06, 2009 8:51 PM  
Blogger Minh said...

Thank you for letting knitters know about the situation that designers are in. I'll refrain from buying Soho magazines and books until this matter is resolved.

And now, I'm off to look at your updated circular shrug pattern ;)

February 06, 2009 8:52 PM  
Blogger Angelika said...

Where would the knitting publishing world be without designers?

Pay designers a pittance and they go away.

Without designs you have magazines full of what???? Advertising?

Hey Publishers!! One hand washes the other!

GHEEESHE!! Angelika
VP Association of Knitwear Designers

February 06, 2009 8:55 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

I'll probably never be in one of the magazines, but I'll do my best to stand tough.

February 06, 2009 9:44 PM  
Blogger Christa Giles said...

Thank you, Annie... timely advice: I just mailed out my first-ever submission to a knitting publication this afternoon... (IK, so thanks to the work you and many others did in the past, I would expect that if I am accepted, I'll be offered a reasonable contract)... and this will keep me on track with future submissions elsewhere.

Would you be open to me reading all or part of this blog post in an upcoming episode of Christa Knits? It is my podcast about knitting design, geared towards emerging designers, and this would be a great topic to share.

Thanks again!

February 06, 2009 10:04 PM  
Blogger kBomb said...

Thank you so much for putting this information out there. It's got to start somewhere!

How long can they hold out over the shouts of a well-knit community?

February 06, 2009 10:20 PM  
Blogger the Lady said...

Good for you, I totally agree that designers should be fairly compensated for all that work, because it is a lot of work, and for a magazine to pay peanuts to a designer is to really devalue all the time, effort, skill, and knowledge that goes into creating, knitting, and writing patterns.

I'm glad that you're taking a stand, because designers should stick together to better the situation, especially, as you pointed out, for the future generations to come.

Thanks for posting, and way to go - intellectual and crafting work should be valued more highly than it is, and thank you for discussing the issue. I like to vote with my dollars, and I will make sure to do so.

February 06, 2009 10:44 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

Even worse, they're not "offering" 10% of the online sale price, but " ten percent (10%) royalty on all net revenue received from the resale of patterns designed by you".

If it's 10% of the net, you could end up with very little indeed.

Good for you, Annie, for putting this out in public.

February 06, 2009 10:45 PM  
Blogger Evelyn said...

"ten percent (10%) royalty on all NET revenue." Note that VK is not offering its designers 10% of the sale price of their patterns, but 10% of the NET revenue. I wonder if it has ever occurred to them that VK would not exist without the designers whose creativity graces its pages.

February 06, 2009 10:54 PM  
Blogger Sue B said...

Something else that makes me crazy. Buying a reprinted pattern from a magazine's website that you print at home costs the magazine NOTHING! Why shouldn't the designer get 50-75%? The magazine doesn't put in more than a pittance of work and no materials. The designer would get sales and send repeat customers back to the magazine. As it stands, I think designers are better off using Etsy to sell and their websites to promote their designs. Especially the one where you have gone back and made exceptional improvments to the pattern.

February 07, 2009 1:15 AM  
Blogger knitting knut said...

Wow! I came from Ysoldas site to here and I had no idea how any of this worked. Now that I do, I will end my magazine support in favor of designer support!! Thanks for getting the word out!

February 07, 2009 1:22 AM  
Blogger Madeline Johnson said...

I'm not a designer, but I support fair pay for the work that goes into designing. Knitting (from design to finished object) is art. I see knitting as unique because it is so accessible (i.e. we can't all be Van Goghs - you designers are like the Van Goghs -, but the FOs from your designs are every bit as unique and valuable as the concept - without, which, of course, the FO would never exist). What I'm trying to say is that designers make the rest of us able to create in ways we probably would not have thought of ourselves (well, me anyway).

I see this issue as analagous to the fair trade movement that started with coffee and has finally spread to other commodities.

It's not just that what you produce is work. It is, but there's more. I don't think we as a consuming society place a high enough value on art and creativity - it gets lost among conversations about efficiency and cost benefit blah blah. This should be remedied.

The best way I can show my solidarity is in how I spend my money. I don't mind not buying a magazine that doesn't fairly support its contributors. Same reason I refuse to by non fair trade coffee.

Maybe designers could require magazines to adhere to a "fair-pay" agreement and then the mag could use that as a selling feature?

February 07, 2009 2:38 AM  
Blogger Karen S said...

Thank you so much for writing this. It has given me a lot to think about on how and to whom I want to submit my designs. As I am a new designer I will try my best to retain the power over my patterns!
Thanks again!

February 07, 2009 6:09 AM  
OpenID bronx58 said...

I'm not a designer. In fact, I barely have the right to call myself a knitter, compared to most of the knitters I know-- but I am a consumer, a reader of magazines, and a purchaser of patterns. I will not buy anything from Soho Publishing (neither books, nor patterns, nor magazines) until they change this ridiculous and unfair policy.

February 07, 2009 8:39 AM  
Blogger chrissieday said...

Thank goodness for people like you Annie who make us all sit up and take note of what we are signing away most of the time.I do design for the magazines but insist on my rights to have the pattern returned to me after publication-of course some magazines tell you to run along --so fine I do,months and months of work go into designing and getting ripped off by the industry is worse than getting ripped off by copyright thieft.I was so fed up of this whole issue just lately I almost put every pattern I have up on the web as a free here it is come and take it,do what you like with it etc.After a cup of tea I decided 'No' I too will fight for what is right and what is fair.But to have to feel that every pattern you design has to be registered ,copyrighted,and images logged away in case you are ever accused of copying begins to take the edge off what used to be magic moments with yarn and needles
Chrissie Day

February 07, 2009 9:12 AM  
Blogger Ruth said...

YES! I do a bit of sock designing and sell only on Ravelry and on Etsy, and I end up keeping around 85% id my selling price with Paypal and Etsy taking the rest. It's a very good deal. Do I get rich? Hah! But at least I'm not selling my soul.

You are so right on with this. Thanks for the courage to do it.

February 07, 2009 10:19 AM  
Blogger ColibriDreams said...

Thanks for writing this post. I'm no designer, but I totally agree that you should get fair royalties. It's your work they are selling. So, I just wrote an angry letter to SOHO publications. I think we consumers can make a big difference too.

February 07, 2009 10:48 AM  
Blogger Irene M. said...

I feel ripped off, too. Even though I've been a subscriber since the 1st issue, I just cancelled my subscription to VK.

February 07, 2009 11:32 AM  
OpenID mwknitter said...

Only thing missing from this post is a pledge for us non-designer knitters. I pledge not to buy online patterns from a mag unless they offer fair compensation to the designer.

February 07, 2009 12:18 PM  
Blogger Chrispy said...

I made this pledge to myself last year that I would not sign over all my rights, because of bad situation with a popular yarn company that hasn't even paid me for my work and they've had it for over a year.

I can't even self-publish my beautiful patterns because I signed away all my rights whether it was published or not. It was my first contract and I didn't know better. Because of you and your writing plus the lovely group of designers on the ravelry forum, I know so much better now what I deserve.

February 07, 2009 12:27 PM  
Blogger Jill said...

Thanks Annie, great post on an important issue!

February 07, 2009 1:32 PM  
Blogger Judi P said...

I'm so glad my VK subscription is up for renewal now. Beyond not renewing it, I am headed off to their site to find some way to let them know why.

February 07, 2009 1:54 PM  
Blogger Tracy said...

Once again, Annie, you've enlightened us all. I've just written an email to VK condemning their exploitation of designers, and I have canceled my VK subscription.

February 07, 2009 3:33 PM  
Blogger Mary Jane said...

Yay Annie, right on! This could not have come at a better time for me. I too didn't sign the IK contract until the change. Thanks for this.

February 07, 2009 3:50 PM  
Blogger Debbie said...

All contracts are negotiable. Its the only way to earn mutual respect so that all parties can move forward
Great post.

February 07, 2009 3:51 PM  
OpenID michellefondle said...

Thank you for saying what I've thought for a while.I'm a small independant designer, who used to write patterns for a yarn company. I was constantly asked why I didn't submit my own designs to Vogue. I said "I'd rather get paid per hour, doing somethig for someone else, that get paid peanuts for my own creation that they will then own." I've since started my own web pattern company, and although by no means serious money, at least I can continue to sell the pattern over and over for as many years as I like, or sell it as I see fit. I feel it's better to get paid $ 5.00 at a time what something is worth, than have a lump sum that's a rip off.
Rember all of you: Those publications have no business whithout contributors. WE ARE THE PRODUCT!
Those contracts have to get with the times. We have options now.

Thank you! I feel better now too.

February 07, 2009 4:18 PM  
Blogger socknitster said...

I think you are very brave to say your piece. And I completely agree with you. 10% is INSULTING. I've been thinking of selling some of my original designs, but I think I will start out with some of the online venues you mentioned! If I ever get into magazines, you can bet I will be reading that contract very, very carefully.

February 07, 2009 6:20 PM  
Blogger SusanJane said...

Yay Annie! For crying out loud, what would they have to put in their magazines if there were no designers willing to sweat out new stuff every year? Why would we buy the magazine if it had no patterns? No Soho product will darken my door again until I hear this has improved. Sounds like knit designers need a national guild or league so they can speak with one voice.

February 07, 2009 6:52 PM  
OpenID gettingpurlywithit said...

Thank you so much Annie for your post. I truly hope it will encourage designers not to cut themselves short.

Designers do great work and should be rewarded fairly.

You are my hero!!!

February 07, 2009 9:25 PM  
Blogger raebc said...

Go get them, Annie!


February 07, 2009 9:46 PM  
Blogger Cora said...

Thank you for this timely post. I have started my own designs, mainly dishcloths and bags at the moment. I have been offering my patterns for free to see if I had a market and I do.

Now it is taking the next step, selling them. If I go tot the magazines than I promise to make sure that I sign a fair contract. I am also looking at selling my designs on line.

Thank you again, as I had watched the contact concerns unfold on Ravelry about the designs.


February 08, 2009 12:04 AM  
Blogger Amanda K said...

Thankyou thankyou thankyou for writing this. I sincerely hope VK (and other companies) wake up and realizes what a POOR horrible disservice they are doing to their designers.

February 08, 2009 6:12 AM  
Blogger Trish said...


I've been a shameful lurker on your blog for way too long. This was one of the most well-written blog posts I've ever seen. As someone who is just starting to design and submit pieces, I must tell you this piece of news is daunting. I wonder if the knitting industry shouldn't take a cue form the music industry in terms of how it structures agreements with knitter. Especially now that online sales of patterns has become so huge.

February 08, 2009 9:45 AM  
Blogger Sereknitty said...

I'll back you on that!

February 08, 2009 11:18 AM  
Blogger Dana said...

Thank you for bringing this to to the attention of knitters! I think knitters as readers and consumers of knitting mags and pattern stores should know about this.

February 08, 2009 11:18 AM  
Blogger HeadKnitwit said...

Well stated. A concise and clear case for designers rights.Not one bit whiny, as it could so rightly be. I fear that I would grow so weak in the knees if given a chance to have a design featured in V. You have reinforced my knees.

February 08, 2009 1:14 PM  
Blogger Sasha said...

Thank you for posting this! This is an issue that just doesn't occur to those of us who are not designers - this has certainly been very eye-opening to me.

In response to what Miss Ripely wrote about women's work being undervalued - I think that may be a part of it, but it seems to me that this goes right along with what a lot of authors and musicians experience as well, and those aren't traditionally female occupations. It's part of our problem with valuing intellectual property in general. Or of valuing the creative intellect that produces the property as opposed to the corporate mechanism that distributes it. I believe the issue of music piracy has made a lot of people aware of the raw deal that musicians tend to get, but most people don't realize that it's a much broader problem.

February 08, 2009 1:16 PM  
Blogger RogueTess said...

Thanks for your thoughtful and detailed explanation of your position. I respect your decision and hope you win enough support among your colleagues to force a change in the industry's policies. BTW, I have made the Twisted Float and marvel at its ingenuity. Kudos for revising it to make it more accessible. -- Teresa

February 08, 2009 6:33 PM  
Blogger Duranee said...

Just chiming in as a consumer - this is exactly the reason why I do my best to buy directly from the designer via their sites and/or via a venue known to be friendly to the designer (Twist, ravelry, etsy). For one thing, the cut for y'all is so much higher and secondly? It isn't wasting paper, and the electronic format is, for me, WAY easier to store and keep and I'm far more likely to go hunting through my virtual library than my actual one for a design.

Go you for continuing to bring up this topic and bring it to the attention to the knitting world at large.

February 09, 2009 2:27 AM  
Blogger Sherri said...

Thank you for letting me know about this! I'm no designer but I really do try to be a responsible consumer.

This weekend I got my VK renewal notice in the mail. Rather than sending them a check, I'll be sending them a letter (in their postage prepaid envelope) explaining why I won't be spending my money with them until they play fair with the designers who make them what they are. I never would have known about this if not for a link to your blog in a Ravelry forum, and would have ignorantly sent off my check, allowing them to continue to screw the designers.

TtG for the InterWebs, and for people like you who are willing to take a stand!

February 09, 2009 9:45 AM  
Blogger Knitting Linguist said...

I usually just lurk, but I wanted to say thank you for such a timely and beautifully-written post. Good luck, and please keep us updated on VK's reaction.

February 09, 2009 11:10 AM  
OpenID helenkosings said...

Thank you for this information. I was seriously considering subscribing to Vogue Knitting this year but now I won't,I will not buy the magazine off the newstand either and I will write and tell them why I won't until they change their unfair policy towards designers.

February 09, 2009 12:53 PM  
Blogger britt said...

you said it sister!

February 09, 2009 1:43 PM  
OpenID nexstitch said...

Great post, Annie. Thank you for taking the lead on this, as you have in the past.

February 09, 2009 4:28 PM  
Blogger mel said...

Thank you so much! This kind of education is so important and so valuable - I can't call myself a designer, but I do some dabbling - and this type of information is so helpful to have. Thanks to you and our other strong designers I have yet to find myself in a bad situation and am much better educated about my options and the potential impact of my actions (however limited it may seem at my current level) Thank you, thank you!

February 09, 2009 6:22 PM  
Blogger Theresa B said...

This was enlightening, Annie! I've only tried once to submit a pattern but would like to write more and I'm glad to have your perspective. We do need to speak up...If you have a spare moment (ha ha), check out the book "Women Don't Ask." It's a great explanation of the power of negotiation and how women are not trained to do it. Also, happy birthday Gerry!

February 09, 2009 7:33 PM  
Blogger SagePixie said...

Bravo Annie!
Thank you for all your hard work and inspiration. It's not 'just business' it's our lives. I had no idea a designers cut was so small. Keep your intellectual property for yourself. I prefer buying online anyway. See you on Ravelry where they still give designers the $$ they deserve.

February 09, 2009 8:01 PM  
Blogger Alissia said...

I'm suprised everyone's so upset. Just think of all the stuff you can get with 10 cents! There's...wait, no, gum is 15...well, how about...wait, candy bars are about $1 now. A button? no. A pencil? no. Hm. Really, what do they expect you to do with such small profit margins? I mean, you *might* be able to buy a candy bar with each sale, but that's about it.

I don't think enough of the big companies realize that their success depends on a partnership. A real partnership...not a patronizing one. They wouldn't have much of a magazine if there were no good designers willing to submit to them. It's just that big magazines, unlike so many individual designers, have a huge amount of resources behind them to throw around and get what they want.

I hope more designers and consumers get together to fight the unfair working conditions. I've been knitting for a few years and am hoping to get into the design world, but even where I am now with nothing published it effects me as a consumer. I was going to get a subscription to Vogue, but I'm not going to now until they change their stance. And I'm going to tell them so.

We have voices...let's use them! Ten cents wont pay the rent!!!

February 09, 2009 9:15 PM  
Blogger BethNouveau said...


February 10, 2009 1:03 AM  
Blogger Julia (MindofWinter) said...

What she said. I think that you wrote this with both candor and fairness and did a very nice job of summarizing what has been happening and why we need to change it. I also want to put in that while some exciting new talent has been "discovered" by the big mags, most of the established talent with web presence has gone elsewhere. If the print mags want to stay relevant and keep designers who are both cutting edge and in it for the long haul they are going to have to re-think their terms. And if you ask me, 50% is still too low. 60% sounds about right. I hope that you get it, because you definitely deserve it as a wonderful designer and a continual inspiration to our community.

February 10, 2009 1:16 AM  
Blogger Sonja said...

If I understand correctly, the *net* revenue is price minus cost, meaning that they could decide that each pattern costs them $X to have on an online store (using whatever figures they want for the bandwidth, web design, IT professional etc.) All this, of course, means you would be getting even less.

I'm not a designer, but I'm with you. Despite the economic situation, I'm trying to support indie designers by buying their patterns through them instead of similar free patterns I find online.

February 10, 2009 12:30 PM  
Blogger Arianne said...

Hi, Annie.
I have written a letter to Vogue telling them that I agree with you and with Ysolda, who linked to your post and wrote about the same issue, and that I won't be buying their magazines (either individual issues, subscriptions, or online patterns) until/unless they change their stance.

I know that me saying that won't make a difference. Vogue has to think there's something in it for them to change...but I hope that your post and Ysolda's post and the hundreds of comments to both posts will help them realise that they really don't want this thing to become an issue.

I really enjoy your designs and your unique approach to designing, to pattern writing, and to knitting have inspired me since I started knitting. I love to be able to support you by buying patterns from your website and I'm going to keep doing that. :) Thanks for all your hard work.

Please know that even if VK doesn't appreciate or value your work the rest of us do!

Good luck on your crusade! I'm behind you!


February 10, 2009 12:47 PM  
Blogger Mary-Kay said...

Exactly Right Annie. Without designers, there is NO magazine. Why don't they get that idea, and share the piece of the pie with those that CREATE the pie in the first place?! Keep up the hard work.

February 10, 2009 2:54 PM  
Blogger margit said...

I'm definitely with you on this one (although I did just submit to Knit.1 in December).

February 10, 2009 8:21 PM  
Blogger twinsetjan said...

Annie, believe me, I am with you! But I hate the idea of you passing up income from those designs for which VK already holds the rights.

You are brave and righteous in absolutely refusing to do further business with them on new designs till they come to a realization that fairness is good business. And we can support you by not doing business with them till then as well. BUT I urge that you do send them the address data so they can send you the 10% from any of your older VK patterns that they sell.

I realize you don't want to enable them, but I figure if you don't, they'll just pocket the money (from less enlightened knitters who buy those older patterns -- and there will be many!) that would've been yours.

Call me a pragmatist, but I hate seeing you lose out on any $$ that could come your way.

February 10, 2009 11:04 PM  
Blogger Lynne S of Oz said...

Thanks for bringing this into the open, Annie. I'll take a second and third look at anything I might buy from Soho Press from now on (includes the Debbie Bliss mag).

February 11, 2009 8:06 PM  
Blogger Kristi aka Fiber Fool said...

Thanks for opening up the discussion on this once again!

One point that I don't see mentioned is the pattern support required with additional publications. With Ravelry and blogs and just plain all the info on Google we designers are easily accessible to the knitting public so we are the ones address errata and answering questions about our patterns. When they reprint them in addtional formats or locations our workload increases as we now have a larger audience when when we accepted the original flat fee.

Also, Interweave is not treating designers fairly across the board. The Designer's Choice is being offered for Knits publications, but other Interweave publications are not sending out the same contracts. Instead they are offering a very small flat fee to republish online! No percentage based pay at all!

February 12, 2009 2:35 PM  
Blogger spinningmaid said...

Thank you Annie! As a new designer I am heartened to see that established ones are standing together to create a designer-friendly world. I promise not to sell myself out!

February 13, 2009 5:42 AM  
Blogger Anni said...

I totally agree with you. I'm a new, unknown designer. I've had several patterns published in the last year by Yarn Forward and to be honest I was quite suprised at how low the pay is when I think of the amount of time it takes me to work the design but at least the copyright reverts to me again in 6 months time. I've also been published in 2 online magazines and there the pay is even less. As I'm new and thrilled to be published at all I'm happy to work for less and at this stage in my career I would probably agree to have a design published in either Vogue or IK for nothing but I know long term that's not good enough. I discussed the issue of pay a week ago with another local British designer to get an idea of the average pay among British mags and you've got to do a lot of work each month to earn a decent living which means you'll have to get knitters to work up the designs for you and have to pay them too. I never thought designing would make me rich but I was hoping i might one day make a living out of it. I'd like it to become a proper career but that won't be easy with the current pay. I think it's very brave of you to speak out like this.

Also the huge availability of free online patterns I think makes it harder to sell patterns. I konw a lot of people who won't pay for patterns at all which seem a real shame.

February 13, 2009 9:29 AM  
Blogger Tsarina of Tsocks said...

Preach it, sistah!

Boy, if that's their idea of "respect and good faith," I'd hate to see how they treat their enemies. VK seriously needs to get a clue about what century they're living in.

February 13, 2009 9:49 AM  
Blogger Kimberli said...

Right ON! I am a knitwear/crochet designer who is sitting on a pile of designs trying to figure out how best to get them out for people to enjoy while being able to pay the rent. Even pieces I've got coming out in books(that are part of we known/best selling series) only pay $50 and the designer looses all rights. The most recent project was 2 years of off and on work, hours of charting and days of knitting, felting and embroidery... resulting in less than $.05/hour when all was said and done. I've been in talks with my friend Shannon Okey at Yarn Forward to do some things there. I'm so glad she and her team have decided to treat designers so fairly. Luckily I have a creative day job, but the supplemental knitting/crocheting design work I'd like to get paid for, at the rates currently offered has kept me from sending my designs out. It looks like I'll need to start setting up a proper website to sell designs through to start with. Thank you for the updated information on IK. Shame on Vogue Knitting. Shame shame shame.

February 13, 2009 11:44 AM  
Blogger Mags said...

You go woman!!! Your advocacy is a cleansing breath in a world that is increasingly "keep your head down and toe the line".

February 13, 2009 8:19 PM  
Blogger Lobug said...

That was amazing. Good for you to stand up and give the call!! I am a new designer, and I so appreciate what you've said. I have intentionally not sent designs to certain places b/c of the copyright/payment issue. There ARE places designers can go to get proper compensation. Good for IK!! Boo, VK!! Makes me happier than ever to be hooked up with a great company like The Unique Sheep!!!(

February 14, 2009 1:28 PM  
Blogger Mardel said...

I am not likely to ever become a knitwear designer but as a knitter and purchaser of knitting patterns I want to good designers to be able support themselves on their work. Good for you and I am in your corner.

That said, I have always loved Vogue Knitting because of the eye candy aspect and yes the good design. If they can't pay designers a reasonable fee then I think designers should go elsewhere even though I would be sad to lose Vogue. I am going to write them a letter here. What they are doing on the web boggles the imagination and makes me think they are shooting themselves in the foot.

Designers, listen to the voice of wisdom.

February 14, 2009 1:31 PM  
Blogger knittingmama said...

I had no idea this is how designers have been treated. I'm so glad you have taken a stand. You are an amazing designer, and as you said, you don't have much to lose by speaking your mind against VK. I have a friend who is a designer, and she is trying so hard to break into the published world. She is finding it quite eye-opening how people are treated, and how contracts work. Keep up your advocacy for those who are just starting out. They will surely reap the benefits of your stance.

February 14, 2009 2:08 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Thanks for keeping us non-designers and not-yet-designers informed and having the nerve to stand up and say enough is enough.

February 14, 2009 11:10 PM  
Blogger Vtknitboy said...

u go girl! i totally agree with your position on this! i'm finding similar problems with handspinners selling way below market value and it's frustrating to see handspun being sold for not much more than the fiber price! we all need to band together to get a worthwhile price for our labor and experience!

February 15, 2009 12:09 AM  
Blogger Lacey said...

I'm not a designer. I don't ever plan to be. But as a knitter who uses patterns, this pisses me off for ya'll.

I'm behind you Annie. Give em' hell!

And I blogged it - in case someone comes to see about this...

And I was led here through another blog.. . We're all behind you Annie. I know you don't need that, but those out there who don't believe you need to hear it.

February 15, 2009 11:33 AM  
Blogger Lynae said...


This is appalling. 10% is insulting.

I have always found that the patterns on Knitty are better written than those in Vogue. Hopefully Ravelry will have the added benefit of designer's getting more $$ for their patterns.

I am behind you....let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

February 15, 2009 5:54 PM  
Blogger Allison said...

Fight the good fight. That's just insulting and greedy. C'mon, just offer nothing over 10%. That's a slap in the face.

This reminds me of the time the TV writers went on strike because the networks were allowing their shows to be accessed online and they got nothing for it. Anyone know what they ended up with? I bet it was more than 10%. It should be 50/50 split, just like a retailer, because that's what they are.

February 16, 2009 5:26 AM  
Blogger Trish - My Merino Mantra said...

I think you are being more than fair. I haven't sold patterns, but I have been an independent contractor, and 80/20 is the only fair compensation (80% to you), especially given the fact that the electronic sales portion of it takes little or no effort on the sellers part. To me, 10% reimbursement for a designer is demeaning. I realize that we are living with a global economy where a great deal of the world's population might make $2./day, but is that a living wage in America? We cannot compete with that. I think the publishing houses might be taking a queue from 3rd world countries. Thanks for bringing this issue to the forefront.

February 16, 2009 9:39 AM  
Blogger Vtknitboy said...

hopefully this is the beginning of a trend toward 20+ percentages given to the designer. gone are the days when there was only 1 or maybe 2 places to get a pattern published. and, i think online is THE place to go. i imagine there are way more people online than suscribing to Vogue Knitting. (a mag i think is staid and kind of dull, and has rarely met my expectations as a male knitter.)

February 16, 2009 12:57 PM  
Blogger KelleBelle said...

I had no idea that Vogue was so unfair to designers. Thanks for providing the other side in this issue, I will be thinking about how I spend my knitting magazine/pattern money more.

February 16, 2009 11:07 PM  
Blogger Brooklynne Michelle said...


This is such an awemoe post about a very important issue, I have and I think many of the newer designers do the same things decided to give the finger to most of the magazines esp VK and only epublish my patterns (just released my first sock pattern on my blog) because of this issue along with the fact that vogue knitting NEVER has the patterns I want to knit in my fat ass size only the ones that would make me look even fatter yet. You have been one of my role models in designing for awhile this post only reminds me of why! I stand up tall and proud and say YES I TAKE THIS PLEDGE!


P.S. I just wish i had a chance to interview you on my podcast before it went under

February 17, 2009 12:02 AM  
Blogger Erika said...

As far as I know, when a short story is published in a magazine, the magazine does NOT retain all rights to that story forever.

Does this Vogue-style situation happen because knitting designers don't have agents? Or are fiction writers simply more schooled in the way of contracts? Or did fiction writers fight this fight long ago, clearing the way for less predatory contracts today?

Either way, thank you for airing the dirty laundry, you're doing the right thing!

February 17, 2009 11:28 AM  
OpenID read2day said...

Interesting - it seems that Soho Publishing (VK publishers) take a journalism approach to contracts; standard journalism contracts are usually cross-media full use, so that pieces can be reproduced in any magazine or site in the publishers portfolio without additional payment or another contract. Soho don't seem to have taken on board the differences between more traditional journalism and this type of project publication.

Interweave seem a lot more aware of what their market is, and what their contributors are likely to do - more like the short-story magazine publishers, in that sense, who deal with authors rather than journalists. The short-story market pays a flat fee for first publication rights only, so that (usually a couple of months after publication) the author is free to do what they like with the story.

In the regular publishing market, 10% royalties is the standard rate and no, it doesn't pay the rent unless an author is very successful; but that's the normal book market, where a physical book's price gets sliced up many ways (booksellers typically pay the distributor about 1/3rd of the cover price, for example). It's a market that shouldn't work the same way online, with negligible distribution costs and no stock to worry about, but publishers are slow to change. Where they are changing, the authors rarely see more actual cash, because online books also tend to be cheaper - we all know the book costs less to produce than a hardcover, so people are reluctant to pay a similar amount for an ebook. A higher percentage of a smaller sales price still takes a lot of sales to add up to rent.

For the person who mentioned the SGA writers by comparison - they actually get less than 1% of sales of online versions of shows they write for; the strike was because they wanted 0.6% instead of 0.3%.

February 17, 2009 12:52 PM  
Blogger Maya said...

I'm glad you wrote this! Honestly, I haven't subscribed to a knitting magazine in years (I've been knitting 20 years and used to religiously subscribe to them all). I much prefer to find my patterns through ravelry, online knitting magazines, or other sources.

February 20, 2009 12:34 PM  
Blogger Mortaine said...

As a new pattern *publisher* and a writer myself, I appreciate this from both sides of the fence. But I also know that, even when a publisher's idea of what they want to do with a work has changed, it's not impossible to call or email the designer and discuss a fair deal.

As a publisher, I won't buy patterns that have been given away for free (that intrinsic value thing), and I already know to talk to my designers about compensation when the time comes to re-publish their work. I might not be able to pay as much as Vogue, but at least I know what my peanuts are worth!

February 20, 2009 8:21 PM  
Blogger Kellie Huffman said...

educational(1) interesting(1) agree(1) love(1)

February 21, 2009 9:43 AM  
Blogger Chloe said...

Well, I guess I'll just read Vogue at Barnes and Noble, make note of the designers I like and look them up. I much prefer to find my patterns through ravelry, online knitting magazines, blogs, etsy or other sources ANYWAY.
I don't go to WalMart, either because I disagree with their labour practices.

February 22, 2009 7:05 PM  
Blogger Woolybelle said...

I doubt that Vogue would care if a few designers refuse to sign their contracts, but I think they might pay more attention if knitters wrote to them and expressed our dissatisfaction with their medieval corporate policy toward designers. It wouldn't keep me awake at nights if I never bought another Vogue Knitting. IK, on the other hand, deserves our support and I will continue to subscribe to their magazine!

February 27, 2009 7:28 PM  
Blogger staceyjoy said...

You really rock for this post, Annie {among other reasons}. This is so important.

March 03, 2009 3:15 PM  
Blogger Megalion said...

I'm appalled at this and will be sending the invoice for my brand spanking new subscription to VK back with CANCELLED written on it and a print out of your post.

I admit to being appalled at Interweave Press too for initially lowballing you and frankly if they're going to do a scale it should START at 50% to 80%.

I feel foolish because when the pattern store opened, I remember arguing with people in the comments on Knitting Daily who were screaming at being asked to pay near issue prices for a single pattern that the designers were getting part of the money. I imagined that it was a greater 50% split.

At least with Ravelry, Casey posted not long ago something about there having been $250k in pattern sales via the Ravelry store and oh he kind of wished that he'd initiated the 10-20% cut for Ravelry from that chunk. But nope 100% went to the designers.

Now there's a way to do it!

Thank you Annie for having the courage to speak up!

March 03, 2009 7:21 PM  
OpenID bookofchange said...


March 04, 2009 11:25 AM  
Blogger THE KNITORIOUS MRS. B said...

No one in can afford to be a 'starving artist" these days, if ever!


I'm truly sorry to see you and other designers so poorly treated by yet, another corporation.

March 07, 2009 1:50 PM  
Blogger Vashti Braha said...

Hi Annie, I blogged about this entry and for some reason can't add it in the links to your post here. The URL is
Nuanced and powerful, Annie, thank you.

March 11, 2009 7:28 PM  
Blogger Jaybird Designs said...

WOW!! I read this post and it gave me a lot to think about. Then, wouldn't you know it, a few days later I saw one of my mag published patterns for sale at e-pattern central. And of course I don't get anything from that.

March 16, 2009 4:37 PM  
Blogger Jean L. Cooper said...

This is the sort of thing that brought on the [a href="]New York Times Co. v. Tasini case[/a].

March 17, 2009 12:11 PM  
Blogger zMaja said...

Thanks for your time, suggestions and advices! It's an amazing post (even though there are no pictures! :)))

Thank you!

March 29, 2009 9:55 AM  
Blogger Jocelyn said...


And, as knitters, why don't we value what we do MORE?

I wrote a post about this some time ago. Here:

April 12, 2009 9:57 PM  
OpenID theknitknack said...

Thank you for shedding light on the industry! IK is the only magazine that I subscribe to/ use online. I am glad they decided to concede. The language in Vogue's email seems very high-handed. It's good that other designers are feeling empowered to look at the contracts critically, and I hope the situation will improve.

I am curious whether Vogue's position is actually correct in law. It may be worthwhile to ask an IP lawyer if by signing a contract in say 1982, a designer really gave internet rights. That seems too broad to me.

May 23, 2009 2:14 PM  
Blogger alabama whirly said...

Well said and thank you for your sage words - I wholeheartedly agree that artists deserve to be treated fairly and retain their rights

June 16, 2009 2:55 AM  
Anonymous Lucille Reilly said...

Hey Annie and everyone, use a RED PEN and CROSS OUT OR "CORRECT" the details you don't like, INCLUDING that ten percent! Then DON'T sign it, >photocopy it for your records< and send it back--and watch their hairs stand on end.

December 04, 2009 2:11 PM  
Anonymous Joanne, JConklinDesigns said...

Thank you for being such an excellent educator.

December 22, 2009 11:25 AM  
Blogger flossdawgg said...

I was just about to subscribe to VK, but this completely changed my mind. I've only been knitting for one year, but that's long enough to know what it takes to design something. I hope things change soon.

December 30, 2009 5:46 PM  

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