With all these sweater thoughts going on here, I’ve been thinking about patterns and what I expect from patterns, especially ones that I pay for.
Recently I purchased a sweater pattern. (I won’t say which pattern because I’m still debating on emailing the designer about it and if you know what pattern I’m talking about, please don’t post it in the comments.) The pattern was on the higher end of what I usually pay for a pattern. I’m used to spending $5-7 for a good pattern without thinking too much of it. This one was over that amount. Because of this, it was one I really thought about before making the purchase. I asked myself if it was really something I would knit and wear a lot. I thought about it for a few months before making the purchase. Now, I’ve purchased $7 patterns and been very pleased with them. They are usually quite detailed and I don’t feel like anything is missing from them, besides the occasional close photograph of a particular part that I want to see (which is what Ravelry is great for). Twist Collective is a great example of this. All of the patterns I’ve purchased from there have been $7 and I think they are worth every penny. There are also many patterns out there for free that meet this same standard of quality I have come to expect from pay for patterns, but today I’m only talking about pay for patterns, specifically sweater patterns.
Now, I don’t feel that I’m that picky about what I expect in a pattern I’ve paid money for. I’ve paid for really well written patterns and I’ve come to expect this same level of quality from all patterns I pay for. I think this is the first time that I’ve really felt let down by a pattern I paid for more then I “normally” would. In a sweater pattern, there are a few important things aside from decent pictures, correct yardage requirements for each size, tools needed, and gauge. What I’ve come to expect from sweater patterns is a schematic of the sweater with finished measurements, stitch counts between moving from section to section and where needed (ie how many stitches you’re splitting off for the arms or how many stitches you have after splitting off the arms or doing a decrease/increase section), and if there are charts, I expect there are written instructions included or it that it is noted if there aren’t written instructions included. Now the chart thing isn’t a huge deal for me because I prefer working from charts, but occasionally I get confused on a part and it’s nice to see it written out.
This particular is 8 pages. With 8 pages of pattern, I’d expect that all of these things would be there, especially the schematic and stitch counts. Sadly, that is not what I got. What I got is an 8 page pattern that goes like this: a large picture on the first page that fills the entire page, a page about the pattern (how the design came to be/got it’s name) and all required materials and gauge, a page with all the instructions for the sweater (including a small picture), 4 pages of charts (no written instructions), and the last page with a large picture filling the whole page. Did you catch that part where I said “one page with all instructions“? Yep. ONE PAGE. On this one page, there are no stitch counts aside from the initial “cast on so many stitches” part. Before dividing the sleeves off, it doesn’t tell you how many stitches you should have. It also doesn’t tell you how many stitches you’re dividing off or how many you should have after they are divided off. Heck if it had that, I could let go of the before dividing stitch count not being there. For the sleeves it just tells you to put the stitches between the markers on waste yarn. When you pick those stitches up later, there’s no mention of how many you should have. Best of all is the total lack of a schematic with finished measurements and the fact that none of the charts have written instructions and it is not noted ANYWHERE on the pattern purchase page. I’m sorry, but not everyone knits from charts and in my opinion, it’s very important to note this to buyers before they pay money for it. None of the charts given on the 4 pages are very large, so I don’t think writing out directions would have been a lot to add, but the charts were created by Knit Visualizer, which generates the written instructions for you, so I don’t understand why there aren’t any included.
I’m sure it doesn’t need to be said, but I’m pretty disappointed in this pattern. It’s written the way I expect a free pattern to be written. I can forgive that with free patterns because I didn’t pay for a product, however I paid a good deal of money for this pattern which feels like it’s lacking a lot of things I have seen in every sweater pattern I’ve knit. I waited a while to blog about this to see if maybe I was just having a rough day and that skewed my perspective. It didn’t. I feel the same way days later as I did the day I purchased it. Frankly, I don’t even want to knit this sweater despite how much I like it because I’m afraid it will just make me frustrated to not be able to check my stitch counts at any point without doing all the math myself.
The same day, I purchased Lyttelton. It’s very well written and has everything I’d expect from a pattern. I paid a bit less then $5 for the pattern (£3.00). I’m fairly certain the schematic is hand drawn, but it has all the necessary information. I can’t wait to get started on this one.
The fact that I’m excited about one pattern and no longer excited about the other made me think about what I expect from patterns. I’m certain part of the reason I’m excited about Lyttelton is that everything I expect to be there is there. Looking at the pattern I don’t have questions about any parts of it and I don’t feel it’s lacking any information. This is the exact reason I’m not excited about the other: it’s lacking information that’s pretty important and that I expect to be there.
All of this left me wondering about how others feel about this topic. What do you expect in a pattern that you pay for? Is there a price you’re willing to pay for a pattern that lacks information you expect to be there that isn’t? Would you complain to the designer if the pattern didn’t meet those expectations? Would you just knit it anyway?
And just so this post isn’t pictureless… here’s my Poppet that arrived yesterday.
Poppet from Strange Studios
In case you’re curious what a Poppet is, you can find out here on Lisa Snelling’s blog.
4 thoughts on “What do you expect from a pattern?”
If you plan to write the designer, what’s your expected result? I’d write her if I wanted clarification of the instructions, to report a mistake, or if I was ultimately not going to be satisfied, I might ask for a refund. If you are hoping that in the future she might lower her prices or write more comprehensive patterns, then it depends on the designer, but I wouldn’t expect a direct result. You might get a positive result or none at all. She may or may not be interested in your suggestions about how the pattern can be made better or your opinions on its price, especially if others are willing to pay it and are happy with the pattern. So for something like this, I’d probably add your thoughts like you have here to your blog, and/or the pattern notes and let others make up their minds for themselves. If the designer is truly interested in offering patterns as a business she’ll be taking note of what her customers are saying. Whether I’d write the designer about general feedback rather than a specific problem would really depend on how strongly I felt about it and whether I thought she was open to feedback and it would make a difference.
I’m not expecting any result of emailing the designer. At the time I wrote this post I wasn’t even sure what I’d say, let alone what any kind of expected result would be. I was still trying to figure out if I even wanted to knit this pattern at all. I don’t feel that it would be fair to ask for a refund if I’m going to knit the pattern anyhow. Partially, that’s what this post was all about… figuring that out – will I really knit this (now or in the future)? I did write that I don’t want to knit it because of my fears of it being frustrating, but I wasn’t 100% decided on this at the time I wrote it, which may not have been clear in the post. If I knew I wanted to knit it or was already working on it, I would have saved this for that post. My focus in the post was more about expectations of patterns we pay for and used this particular pattern as an example of something that didn’t meet my expectations.
I sort of surprised that I’m saying this, but you sound very dissatisfied so I think you should email the designer and ask for money back. She could say no but then you’d at least have tried. I still have trouble paying $7 for a pattern so I think with what you paid there should be more instruction in it. I know which one it was but I won’t say anything. Glad you put in the comment on it though!