Elizabeth Street

The Price of Design

Creative InspirationLiz Tubman3 Comments

I'm currently knee-deep in testing and prepping my second self-published knitting pattern, and through this process I've hit a stumbling block: the high price of designing knitting patterns.  I'm wondering if any other knitters or self-published designers have felt this same frustration at times.  You see this beautiful new pattern (or have killer idea for a new design) and immediately know you have to cast on...until you add up the price of the skeins of yarn being called for.  You cringe at the total, knowing there's no way you can afford to spend that amount of money on something that's not an absolute necessity.  You might be able to go stash-diving, but what if what you have on hand doesn't fit the pattern requirements?  How do you move forward on a project without sacrificing the quality or integrity of the design?

I knew as soon as I started designing that I never wanted to design something that:

1. I wouldn't want to wear myself and

2. that I couldn't afford to knit myself.

This has become a much bigger challenge than I thought.  I never want to sacrifice yarno quality but I also want whatever I design to be approachable for knitters of any income level.  On the other hand, I love being able to support small businesses and domestic yarn companies working hard to keep the fiber industry alive.  It feels like a bit of a tightrope walk trying to balance all of these elements with a single design.  I face the frustration of not being able to bring a vision in my head into reality the way I want, since the price of high quality yarn and supplies are sometimes prohibitively high for me.

I should also say that I'm a very new designer and all of my design work so far is completely self-funded purely as a small side business.  I imagine that a full-time designer works very differently and perhaps doesn't face these challenges in particular.  And I will admit that I have probably only scratched the surface of possible yarn and supply sources and maybe my taste just tends toward the more expensive side. 

All these thoughts have been floating around my head as I've been laying out design plans for the rest of 2017.  While I acknowledge these challenges, I also have to acknowledge the fact that I'm so grateful to be able to fund any kind of hobby period.  I'm also happy to have found a couple of go-to companies that produce an extremely high-quality product for a very reasonable price that (in my opinion) is worth every penny: Quince & Co and Brooklyn Tweed.  These are my go-to sources for yarn at the moment but I'd love to be able to expand that, especially to include some indie dyers and small(er) yarn companies. 

Have you ever experienced this frustration?  I'd love to hear your thoughts or suggestions for yarn + supplies!