Monday, October 05, 2009

Hell. No.
New Clarification at Bottom of Post

A Vogue Designer earns 6% per pattern sold on their website. (6% is Vogue's idea of "10% net", which is the figure they dictated in a mass mailing to Designers earlier this year.)

By comparison, Interweave pays between 20-50% (which would be $1.80 - $3 on a pattern which retails for $6) Interweave pays their designers on a sliding scale*

Interweave sends out clear quarterly statements outlining how many patterns have sold, what they retailed for and what percentage was paid to the designer. Vogue just sent me this:

Seeing the actual check (which I intend to frame for it's comedy value) which accompanied the letter from Vogue relit my fire.

Folks, it is damned hard to earn a living at this. While the prez of Soho flies down to the Bahamas to pick up his yacht, I head to Goodwill to get school clothes for the kids.

Here's a table that breaks down the % on a pattern that retails for $6

The facts bear repeating: Interweave Knits pays between 20% - 50% of the retail price of a pattern, Vogue pays 6%.

IK's more fair policy in paying designers for internet sales didn't just happen. I am proud to say that I had a hand in it.

At first IK offered a much smaller amount. Through commentary on my blog and other designer outcry, Interweave was wise and far-sighted enough to sit down and discuss a sliding scale which is much more fair in terms of payment.

Vogue won't even discuss their policy, end of story.


Professional photographers and graphic artists have a guild
- we need one, too!

And we need to let Vogue know that this is not acceptable.

When I submitted my designs to Vogue and signed my initial contracts, I certainly never intended to give Soho Publishing the full rights to sell my patterns online and only pay me 6% of each sale. I'm certain no one else did, either. Heck, online sales weren't even on the radar at that time!

I've vowed not to design for them until this policy is changed (and let's be honest, if it ever does change there's not much chance they'd use my designs again...) But as long as I'm out, I can be as loud as I want!

If you're a designer, I urge you to LET VOGUE KNOW that you will not be designing for them as long as they keep this very hurtful-to-designers policy in place.

Ask yourself: Would there be a Vogue Knitting without designers? Hardly.

Then ask: Is there a marketplace for handknit designers work outside of Vogue Knitting? Definitely.

Folks, we CAN change this if we work together. Who's with me?

If you're not a designer, if you're a consumer, I'm not asking for a boycott of Vogue. But I do think it would be beneficial (and the right thing to do) to write to Vogue and tell them that as a consumer you are unhappy with their policy.

Please read my earlier posts (Unionizing, Interweave Knits & Vogue) on this for background on this story. I'm sick to death of repeating the scenario over and over, and I'm a little angry at my own sorry self for allowing myself to be quieted by nasty comments about how terrible it would be to unionize knit designers.

Terrible or not (and it wouldn't be) I see no other way to begin to treat ourselves with the respect we would like others to show to Hand Knit and Crochet Designers. I'm not doing this for butter-and-egg money, this is my MORTGAGE, and I'm not alone.

[Union Rant Warning]
Well, hear this. If you like a 5 day work week, 8-hour work day, paid vacation, workers compensation insurance, unemployment insurance, and the family medical leave act (not to mention child labor laws) then you can thank a union member.

No entity is perfect, and I've done my share of grumbling at what seem to be imperfect union rules and policies. But overall a worker has NO voice if we do not band together, and the standard of living of the average working class American (union member or not) has steadily declined as union membership has declined in the 80's and 90's.

An insidious campaign of disinformation about exactly what unions do, and how they've changed America for GOOD, has been in place since the early 80's. Each of you has felt it's sting in the steady lowering of wages, working conditions and benefits, whether you realize it or not.

Hand knit designers are no different. We earn essentially the same amount as we did in the 1980's for a published design in Vogue Knitting.

I'm writing this in my third cousin's driveway - internet on the road is hard to find! I wanted to clarify a point that Jolene brought up in the comments.

To clarify: The 6% fee that I'm so miffed about is on top of the initial design fee. The 6% is not the only amount that the designer is paid.

I thought I had been clear about that (I've definitely gone over that many times in previous posts on this issue) and I didn't mean to imply that the 6% was the only bit of money a designer sees from a garment. That would be unbelievable.

But, as I stated in my above post:
A Vogue Designer earns 6% per pattern sold on their website. (6% is Vogue's idea of "10% net", which is the figure they dictated in a mass mailing to Designers earlier this year.)
The fee VK pays is in line with, but slightly less than, Interweave's fee range. In my case, the VK scale seems to run between $100 for a small item to $500 for a large item. (as a reference point, I received $500 for the Twisted Float Cocoon that was on the cover of the Fall '05 issue, the high end of my payscale from Vogue. If you're interested, here's a pdf file of what I've designed for Vogue and how much the fee was for each piece.)

This is just slightly more than the scale that was in place when I designed for Vogue back in the mid 80's. I remember one designer receiving $800 for a three piece outfit at that time.

Personally, I feel theses fees are small for the amount of work that goes into a design (up to 3 weeks for a larger piece) But that's a different blog post.

What the above post is about are patterns that have already been published in Vogue, and are being resold online. In Vogue's case, 6% of the fee is going to the designers, I don't think that's fair.

When I signed my contracts with Vogue in the 80's and again in the early 2000's, the idea of reselling patterns online wasn't on anyone's radar. It certainly wasn't on mine, which is perhaps a mistake on my part. (However, greater minds that mine are running into this same issue of intellectual property being resold with scant percentages being paid to the intial author / designer.)

The fact that Vogue offers only 6% per pattern sale, AND won't discuss the issue with designers** is the source of most of my anger.

As far as fee fairness, if you compare what a hand knit designer gets for a piece compared to what the photographer receives for shooting that same piece (and which the photographer deserves!) the difference is alarming. I don't have hard facts on this, just anectdotal information from photographers and other designers, but from what I can glean a photographer earns about three times what the designer earns.

As I said, the photographer deserves it, but when you break down a $500 fee for a hand knit garment into the time it takes to design, create and write the pattern for the piece, we're talking McDonald's hourly wages.

*In full disclosure, I currently earn 40% on each pattern sold at Interweave Knit's website. IK's sliding scale is based on how many other venues carry the pattern online, and whether the designer has a link to the IK pattern store at their website. The link to the right for my cocoon crochet shrug earns me a cool 10% additional on each pattern of mine IK sells.

**or, Vogue wouldn't at the time of the announcement in Feb 2009. I've just received an email from David at Soho asking me to call him. I'm hoping this will be the start of a discussion about percentages of pattern sale fees paid to designers, and how to raise it to a more fair level.

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Blogger Cindy said...

Wow. Not only is that an insulting amount to pay a designer, but that's a ridiculous "statement" to send. The very least they could do is give a complete breakdown of patterns sold, retail price paid, and percentage paid to you. Certainly that should be a simple database dump for them to provide. Then you could at least know which patterns are selling well.

This is such a shame, because recently the patterns in Vogue have actually been things I'd like to make. It used to be that there wasn't anything in their publications that I thought was wearable (much too fashion-forward for me), but lately it's been much better.

I'm with you on this. Unless and until we stand together and insist that our work is valuable, nothing will change. I'm so tired of seeing things dubbed "art" have big price tags, while more usable and equally (or more) beautiful "craft" items are relegated to five-and-dime-store status.

October 05, 2009 1:11 PM  
Blogger Quiara said...

I've sent a letter. My goodness, that's insane. Do they not realize that they cannot short the ones who provide their content? Or that in banking on the Internet for sales, they are catering to a networked group of fiercely loyal knitizens? Makes me angry.

(Also, I'm exceptionally pro-union. My great granddad was union leader in our area for railroads and my entire family has always been aware of the good that can come from them. Unionize!)

October 05, 2009 1:14 PM  
Anonymous Annika said...

I have a check from BlogHer ads for one cent hanging on my wall. It would be framed but if I simply can't be bothered.

Vogue is now (and has been since your first post on the matter) off my list of markets to submit my designs to. I'm new to designing but every design I've submitted so far has been accepted so I must be doing something right. I'm sending Vogue a note now, and I'm ready to talk union/guild.

October 05, 2009 1:17 PM  
Anonymous Amy said...

Go Annie! No one does soap box as well as you do. Count me in on the submission boycott and in any future guild/union stuff.

October 05, 2009 1:24 PM  
Blogger Soupytwist said...

Fiber artists just need to look at more high profile arts and trades to see the benefits of unionizing.

Solidarity means something. Fiber artists and designers are being exploited and it needs to stop.

October 05, 2009 1:26 PM  
Anonymous Julia Grunau said... (the online pattern store) has paid a minimum of 60% of the retail price, which the designer sets, since the moment we went live. We also have real-time, 24/7 sales reporting, so you can see what you're selling at any moment to any country in the world. If we pay to a PayPal account and the amount owing is over US$20, you get paid once a month; if by cheque, quarterly. But you always know what's owed to you.

October 05, 2009 1:30 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Thanks for the link to Vogue, Annie. You made it very easy. Just sent them a letter saying i will not renew my subscription, but will continue to send my money to Interweave, and Twist Collective, and individual purchases from designers online. Keep pressing.

chris a from rochester

October 05, 2009 1:30 PM  
Blogger athena said...

Interestingly, you can post a review of Soho Publishing on Yelp:

No review yet. ;-)

October 05, 2009 1:37 PM  
Blogger Alison said...

I'm truly amazed that Vogue has continued to refuse to even discuss the matter. I've never submitted a design to Vogue, though I was considering it before your original post on this matter. At this point, as flattered and excited as I would be to be published in Vogue, it just wouldn't be worth it, it would feel wrong...
I'm not a big union fan, in general, but I do see the benefit to standing together and shouting with a much louder voice.
Happy knitting-

October 05, 2009 2:01 PM  
Blogger Anni said...

I really agree with you and I think it's great that you speak out on behalf of designers. I'm a new designer and have had patterns published regularly in British mags for hte last year. I'd love to get a design published in VK but if that's the deal they offer designers perhaps I should concentrate of interweave first. I think a designers union is a good idea. Keep up the good work.

October 05, 2009 2:50 PM  
Blogger honeybee33 said...

Once-upon-a-time, VK was the best (if not the only) game in town. But now, the hand-knitting community is so diverse and diversified that you can get high-quality patterns from many other top sources, including directly from designers themselves. There's absolutely no earthly reason for this attitude from VK other than pomposity and greed.

Email sent, including a commitment to boycott their online pattern store and end my subscription.

~ hb33, who's ready to scrawl "UNION" on a piece o' cardboard and stand on a table and hold it high ~

October 05, 2009 5:59 PM  
Blogger Misha Day said...

Wow. That's pretty insulting. I've always been pretty 'meh' on Vogue as a knitting magazine, and now I won't even put up single issues, but continue to renew my IK subscription and purchase patterns anywhere BUT Vogue.

October 05, 2009 6:24 PM  
Blogger Sharon Rose said...

Thanks for bringing this to our attention! I certainly won't be buying anything from Vogue until this changes.

October 05, 2009 7:38 PM  
OpenID potentialandexpectations said...

I am quite shocked. I had *no idea*! Thanks for being brave enough to post honestly about this.

October 05, 2009 11:50 PM  
Anonymous dawn s said...

Now this is an appropriate issue for you to write about!

October 06, 2009 2:45 AM  
Blogger Marsha said...

I'm not a designer but I do test for designers. HUGE difference.
I test for the opportunity to learn and perhaps actually get a pattern I enjoy and will make.

I had heard some rumors a few years back that Vogue was extremely unfair to designers and that this parctice had lead to many well known designers leaving their contractual agreements with Vogue.

Perhaps it's not much of an impact, I'm only one consumer, but upine hearing those rumors. I stopped buying anything Vogue. Unfair labor practice is unfair be it designers, producers, whatever. I want no part of them or their unfair practices.


October 06, 2009 3:28 AM  
Blogger Do said...

That is just crazy..
Think about how much time and effort it costs to create a pattern and how easy it is for them to print it. (I know the presentation of a pattern needs some work too, but not that much..)

October 06, 2009 9:41 AM  
Anonymous Rebecca said...

UNION! My husband has worked a union job for 30 years and is now a union president. We have lived the union life complete with medical and dental benefits. I hope and pray that you can get something going within the knit designers community, find a way to organize, and get paid for what you are worth. From one voice comes many. In solidarity, Rebecca

October 06, 2009 10:54 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

I'm not sure I can hate VK more than I already do, for their snotty attitude toward their readers, their lousy sizing, and their absolutely atrocious approach to errors in their patterns, but I'll try to work up some more ire.

As a reader, not a designer, I had no idea their pay was so absolutely lousy. I'm appalled by them all over again.

Good luck to you, and bravo for having the courage to speak up.

October 06, 2009 11:01 AM  
Blogger PipneyJane said...

Hi Annie. To put it bluntly, Vogue's treatment of designers make my blood boil. The fact that rates haven't risen in 20+ years is risable, even before this electronic publishing malarky started. Designers are expected to feel privileged that their designs are published by them - the amount of hard labour and time involved obviously doesn't count.

As I said to you when we met in London, I'm 100% behind the formation of a Designers' Guild, even if I will probably never qualify for membership.

- Pam

October 06, 2009 11:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, first - I'm not renewing my subscription to Vogue Knitting, nor will I purchase it on the newstand.

Second. While unions have served people well in the past, I've been a union girl because I was forced to pay union dues to an organization that was in the back pocket of my employer. So be very careful what you wish for.

October 06, 2009 12:31 PM  
Blogger Charles (Stitchstud) said...

Thanks for keeping the light shining into the darkness that is SOHO policy.

October 06, 2009 1:01 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

After your first post about this, I made a conscious decision not to submit to Soho publications anymore. It's really not right what they are doing and when I see the $2.99 sales on patterns, like they are running now, it just makes me sick.

We work so hard and I choose to spend my time working for venues that actually have the decency to open up a dialogue when there is a problem.

October 06, 2009 3:16 PM  
Blogger Rows Red said...

I am so proud of you. I'm delurking just to tell you that. We need more people out there like you who are willing and able to stand up for what's right. If you're ever tired, or doubting your continued struggle, please know that there are plenty of people out there who are hoping you burn the damn house down so we can rebuild it better, from the ground up.

October 06, 2009 4:32 PM  
Blogger Kristi aka Fiber Fool said...

I think one of the biggest points these publishers are not realizing is that with the Internet (blogs, e-mail, Ravelry etc.) designers are bearing the brunt of questions about their designs. Twenty years ago when they paid designers the same as what we make now the *publishers* dealt with most pattern questions and designers only saw those questions the staff could not answer. More sales on their end causes little extra work so it is a big win for them to resell the patterns. We designers have yet more work to do the more they sell the design and we're not being compensated for that additional work.

I certainly applaud Interweave for doing better than Vogue. However, not *all* of Interweave is. It is Knits only and Interweave is finding ways to not pay out those royalties by offering whole issues for download or re-purposing patterns into e-books and claiming an inability to calculate a percentage of a percentage. I've had multiple projects with Designer's Choice contracts and have yet to get a check because they've done such things with all my patterns with such contracts. Yet, last December they printed my name as one of the lucky designer's to benefit from their fantastic new fair payment plan.

October 06, 2009 6:06 PM  
Anonymous jacey boggs said...

I'm not a designer but whatever voice I have will be joining in. Go you, for being a force in the industry. So wonderful when people with names don't mind using it for good.


October 06, 2009 6:11 PM  
Blogger i like cake said...

I sent an e-mail to the contact listed in this post earlier, and got a response from him asking me to call him tomorrow to discuss. Did anyone else get a similar response?

October 06, 2009 6:30 PM  
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

6% is appalling no matter how you slice it.

I have nothing else I can say that you have not already said better.

Thank You!

October 06, 2009 6:50 PM  
Anonymous Alison said...

I know you aren't calling for a consumer boycott of VK, but since I've been trying to decide which magazines I want to subscribe to, and can only afford a couple, I think VK has dropped off the list and it's going to be Yarn Forward and IK. So thanks for your help with that dilemma!

October 06, 2009 7:06 PM  
Blogger evie said...

Count me in as another who has written to Vogue and will not be buying any SoHo Publishing magazines.

Is it true that SoHo own Sixth & Spring Books? If so I guess I won't be buying a few books either...

I think it's unforgivable that SoHo Publishing can treat designers so abysmally.

October 06, 2009 8:47 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

I sent an email. Disgusting.

October 06, 2009 8:55 PM  
Blogger Quiara said...

I got a reply back from my email saying 1) how did I get his email, 2) I'm grossly misinformed and 3) I can call to discuss it further.

October 07, 2009 3:03 AM  
Anonymous Jolene said...

I sent an email also... I am appalled at the way that publication takes advantage of you designers!

Honestly, if you took away the designs... that magazine would basically be just advertisements.

I think they need to better compensate their "Creative Staff" and in a major way.

Kudos to you designers out there... us knitters do appreaciate it!


October 07, 2009 7:01 AM  
Anonymous Samantha Edwards said...

I sent an email. As a consumer I had no idea this was being done to designers by certain publications. It is unacceptable to me. I want to support the designer therefore I will purchase any future patterns from IK.

You and every designer out there have my support. Thank you Annie for making people like me aware of this unfair labor practice by Vogue.

October 07, 2009 7:53 AM  
Anonymous Jolene said...

After sending my email... I received a reply stating that perhaps this article is a bit skewed...

The designers are paid yes 6 % for web sales, but are also paid quite reasonable fees for "Selling" their pattern to the publication. They may only get 6 % of web sales, but were paid 500 - 1000$ for the patterns themselves in an initial transaction.

I know there is probably more than meets the eye in this situation, as in most business transactions, but I think in this case, perhaps I was too hasty in judging the company based on too little information

October 07, 2009 9:44 AM  
Blogger Beth123B said...

I'm a brand new designer (currently fighting with my second pattern), and have never submitted a design anywhere (first one is free on Ravelry), but this is appalling! I can't really afford subscriptions to anything, but I will be writing VK to let them know what I think of this. I may never qualify for, or be able to afford, membership, but you've got my backing for a union!


October 07, 2009 10:12 AM  
Blogger cedarstrings said...

Okay, designers, form your guild and stand strong. As a consumer of the printed word (and virtual printed word), I pledge to "look for the union label" in all future pattern and design purchases; I will not renew my subscriptions to VK and Soho's other publications; whenever possible, I will purchase the intellectual work directly through the designer's websites.

Thank you, Annie, and all of the other brave designers who forge ahead with their art and their mission to make beauty accessible to all of us.

October 07, 2009 10:52 AM  
Blogger Estella said...

Thanks so much for this enlightening post. I just received an email yesterday about a pattern sale on Vogue Knitting. I decided NOT to order anything after reading your post...and I posted about it on my blog. A little knowledge can go a long way. Thanks.

October 07, 2009 11:29 AM  
Blogger Harpa J—nsd—ttir said...

This sounds like something out of the dark ages!

You are a hero!

October 07, 2009 12:24 PM  
Blogger Annie said...

Hi Jolene,

I never meant to imply - nor do I think I did - that the 6% was the only payment for the pattern.

Designers are compensated (although the figure of $500 - $1000 is a lot higher than I've received from Vogue)

When I stated at the end of the post, "We earn essentially the same amount as we did in the 1980's for a published design in Vogue Knitting" that's what I mean. I earned between $400 - $800 for sweaters I designed in the 80's for Vogue, that is roughly what I've been paid in the past 5 years for anything they've accepted.

The 6% is the amount of each ONLINE PATTERN SALE that Vogue is paying, and it's too little. If Interweave can pay up to 50% (issues like the collection on disk as mentioned above nothwithstanding) and Patternfish can pay 60%, Vogue can pay better than 6%.

I'm sorry if you misunderstood.


October 07, 2009 8:18 PM  
Anonymous Jolene said...

Thanks for the Clarification Annie,

I agree that 6% isn't very much... and that you designers don't get near enough compensation for the wonderful creative work you do. And that it might be time for some changes to that system

Interesting to think about and learn more about this topic though.

Thanks for starting the forum to discuss this

October 08, 2009 7:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally understand your feeling underpaid and undervalued by VK and other publications. Our time and ideas should be worth more to others, but unfortunately they sometimes are not. You've talked about this on your blog before and while I do empathize, I can't help but comment that maybe it is just a matter of accepting that this profession will not currently bring in the salary/compensation that will help you to support your family at this time. I wish I got paid what I am worth! Ask any teacher - in most cases, we do not make much money when you factor in all the time spent at off-work hours preparing for class - unpaid. You've chosen a non-traditional job/profession and it seems that if it is not "working" for you money-wise, why not make a change? I'm sorry if I sound unsympathetic but this seems to be a recurring rant of yours (hey we all need to rant once in a while - rants are great for letting off steam!)and you must know that you can't change an entire industry and so why keep banging your head against the wall?
Please don't take this the wrong way, I just think I would've found a different line of work by now.

October 08, 2009 2:04 PM  
Blogger WikiBobo said...

Give 'em hell. Nothing is better than hot publicity about bad behavior!

October 08, 2009 4:27 PM  
Blogger mwknitter said...

I think this practice should be offensive to all women. I have just sent an email telling Vogue that I will not be buying anything from their online store until they treat designers more equitably. I can't help but feel that this is largely due to sexism. I too am a big supporter of unions. I was a union steward for AFGE. Not many people know it but almost all federal employees are represented by unions. They constitute probably the largest group of white collar workers represented by unions.

October 08, 2009 4:37 PM  
Blogger . . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Annie, I just love you. You are my hero.

I think that the rate paid to designers is laughable (if it weren't so depressing). I did a quick search of stylists' day rates, and they get paid more in a single day than the designer gets paid for the entire project.

I suspect that the same could be said for the comparison between what the knitwear designer gets paid, and what is spent on catering the photo shoot.

Without the designer, there would be no garment, no photo shoot, and no Vogue Knitting.

October 08, 2009 9:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I had no idea about this! I am a designer, who has been designing for just a few years, but I had no idea about the compensation being paid to designers by Vogue Knitting. I have purchased their magazine before and enjoyed the patterns, and will be emailing them on behalf of designers and consumers everywhere.

Thank you for taking a stand.

October 09, 2009 4:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the latest issue of Vogue Knitting (mine came yesterday) is any indication, the vast majority of the patterns aren't worth two cents, anyway. I wonder if Vogue's poor treatment of their designers has contributed to this serious lack of fresh looking, knit-worthy patterns. Fight the good fight. You have earned your place in the knit-o-sphere, and you do.not.need.Vogue!!!

October 09, 2009 4:56 PM  
Anonymous monica said...

I totally look forward to my Vogue Knitting issue,but not enough to continue subscribing,if this is how they do business.I just submitted my opinion via the link you gave and let them know I would not be renewing until this is resolved.I choose to know you will both prevail and benefit from standing up for your talent.

October 10, 2009 3:31 AM  
Blogger Eleanor said...

Jolene, I sent an e-mail to Mr. Joinnides and received a reply stating that designers were paid two to three times the going rate at other magazine. However, consider the following:
1) Patterns are posted to the IK store often just after the magazine has left shelves, but the patterns are still fresh in the public's mind
2) There are links in Ravelry to the IK store that allow people who stumble upon the pattern to purchase it easily
3) Knitting Daily sends out frequent updates when patterns have been added to the store.

Assuming that Vogue does the same things, and that they own the right to the pattern after it's been published and can be sold in the online store indefinitely, it seems to me that far more patterns will be sold via the internet than in magazines. Therefore, in the long run, Vogue will probably end up paying much less to designers because of their payment policy for patterns sold online.

In my opinion, this is like having health insurance with a high deductible and 90% coverage beyond the deductible (IK) vs a very low deductible and 50% coverage of costs beyond the deductible (Vogue). Given the choice, I'd certainly prefer the former.

Just my two cents :)

October 10, 2009 9:39 PM  
Blogger Lynne said...

I'm really regretting my recent Vogue subscription now. How foolish of me to think that one could actually get paid for creative work.... Perhaps in addition to a union, a guild with its own magazine in which 100% of profits go to submitting designers. I'd subscribe.

October 11, 2009 9:43 AM  
Anonymous Michele said...

To Anonymous who posted wondering why Annie has not found a new career - there are those who stand up for what's right, and blaze the path for others. Annie, IMHO, is one of those people. More power to her for not caving in to the powers that be and for continuing the fight for fair wages for desginers.
And as far as her not being able to change an entire industry? There have been entire industries changed thanks to those who stuck with the fight, through thick and thin...for example, those who battled for women's right to vote in the US, civil rights, the 8 hour work day, the list goes on and on. Thank goodness they didn't listen to those who wanted them to stay in their place - and thank goodness Annie continues to rant about this topic.
As a teacher, I bet you have benefits such as paid time off, health benefits, pension plan, etc. Those benefits did not come about from some benevolent employer taking pity on the poor worker - it came from people who fought and fought for those benefits.
Annie, keep ranting and raving - I'll do whatever I can to suppoert you and the rights of designers everywhere.
Oh, and I can't help but notice that the names of the designers in the holiday VK seem to be newbies....

October 12, 2009 1:14 PM  
Blogger weeseaweed said...

hi annie, i read your post following a link from the rav "... feminist knits" forum - more power to you! i think it's appalling that anyone receives just 6% of their intellectual property (and no, i don't give half a shite about rights nonsense - you created it, no-one can take that away from you).

firstly, i would advise that folk who are getting cold feet following responses from SOHO think twice about why SOHO's word should be more reputable than annie's. why would someone go the the bother of making their views on a system public and opening themselves up to the kind of criticism levelled by some of the "anon"s above without just cause? it's potentially libellous and the fact that this post is still here after a week suggests that SOHO don't have grounds nor means to remove it.

secondly, UNITE! kids, i ain't joking. unions are the only way you're going to protect the remainder of your rights. sure, there are "bad" unions - as with Anything! - but look at it this way: no knit/crochet designers' union is going to be "owned" by an employer because there are no employers, only contractors, and that's where union membership is beneficial for all.

October 13, 2009 3:26 AM  
Anonymous caroline said...

Thanks for speaking out on the subject of fair pay for designers. I've just sent an email to David at Soho. Let's hope he's more amenable to discussing and changing policy.

October 14, 2009 11:51 AM  
Blogger Alice said...

Interesting discussion, and good information for us consumers to have. Now that the knittosphere is so much more than just print publications, I'm wondering whether it's gotten to the point where designers can make a living through self-publishing and Ravelry downloads. Since you do all those things, do you think it will get to a point where the magazines will become irrelevant?

October 14, 2009 5:38 PM  
Anonymous G. said...

Rock on, Annie. I'm small potatoes, and I've self-published. After watching your battles with VK, I'm determined to keep my stuff under my own control. I'll keep checking in to see how the fight is going. I love a good fight, and I'm happy to organize.

October 15, 2009 3:12 PM  
Blogger Erssie said...

I am a designer.
I am with you.
I work from breakfast to bedtime, about 7 days a week to produce a small amount....and I generally get paid peanuts really.

I knit accessories, but mainly socks. Now a pair of socks stitch for stitch has the same work put in as a worsted sweater...but I generally get between £35 pounds and £80 pounds for a sock pattern that is graded into 4 sizes.
It can take me a couple of weeks to make a sock and write the pattern....and the fee is peanuts even for a days wages let along 14 days!

I am fed up with knitters griping about the cost of patterns. And totally fed up with the work I do not pulling in a decent fee. I cannot teach, and cannot do a lot of things due to disability so I design. But as you know, designing alone although a perfectly good skill and worthy of payment....does not make enough money to keep you out of trouble.

I think it is worth getting a union together. I even find as well, that where I might earn say £50 for something includied in a issue of a mag....another designer who they decide is better known gets at least triple of that.

There should be some standardisation.

Then, if knitters ask if they can sell things from the patterns you write, they think a designer is a total meany to ask for 10% of sales made from multiple copies of their own design!

October 21, 2009 8:49 AM  
Blogger Kim said...


I also sent a letter informing David that I would be spending 6% of my magazine budget on VK since I have already allocated an initial Fee to them. And that I would be spending the other money on the other magazines. This sucks.

And to the other teacher. You don't think that we have the things we have now because of our unions. Please without the teachers unions we would still be making $18,000 a year and forced to quit when we married. You sound like you don't like the extra work.. why don't YOU find a new job. BTW it's not just teachers that work unpaid OT. Many companies ask that.

October 22, 2009 8:12 AM  
Anonymous john said...

Annie -
I certainly respect you and your freedom of speech. My only request is you think about OTHER designers who might not have as big a problem with Soho as you do. It's the same phenomenon - someone steals something, the store raises the prices for everyone, and everyone suffers. I personally know many designers who received the same checks, the same letters, and they are all pleasantly surprised Vogue Knitting has even decided to do something like that. It was never in the original contracts, and if you don't like what you are paid by them, then don't design for them. I only speak for myself when I say this, I ask you speak only for yourself when you attempt the "Norma Rae"-ish takeover. You'll be hurting a lot of people. Of course you'll have followers, people that back you up and say, "you're oh-so-brave". But I am equally as brave in saying to you that it's incredibly selfish of you to start some wage-war with Soho in order to gain more for yourself. I'll be interested to see if you allow this comment to be posted.

October 31, 2009 1:50 PM  

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