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Behind the scene: the cost of knitting or crochet pattern

The longer I design knitting garments and write knitting or crochet patterns for them the more comments “why pay so much for the homemade pattern?” I get from some knitters. Normally I ignore this question but today I’d like to share my opinion on this matter. So, if you ask this question, then my answer will be: “Don’t pay a penny! There are thousands of free patterns from yarn companies that you can download and enjoy your knitting!” However, not everyone is aware that the cost of these free patterns is included into the price of yarn these companies sell and it is a part of advertisement. Anyway, at least you’ve got a feeling that this pattern is FREE! By the way yarn companies work with independent designers too!

I think it is wrong to call independent designers and their work – homemade. I’m self-employed knitwear designer and I pay taxes from my income as most of you do. It is my job and I’m proud to state that.

The level of knitting patterns from indie designers sometimes higher than patterns from some knitting magazines and have much more information than you normally would have from free patterns. A lot of my patterns have some theory and useful tips as well as photo-tutorials for some techniques.
If you’re a fun of large knitting companies and free patterns and don’t like supporting small business and indie designers then do not read this post but for those of you who would like to ring up the curtain and find out more about process and what actually stays behind the scene I’ve decided to write a post to give you some ideas about the time and resources involved in every pattern creation.

Every designer has their own process and expenses involved but some things and stages are common for most of them. So, let us see the process closer:

Production cost:
It is the easiest part to identify as it is obvious.
1.    Tools and materials: I need to buy yarn for every knitting project. The bigger the project is the more yarn I have to buy. Even if I try to look for some sales and buy yarn online I will pay the same money as you do.  I can’t design without knitting tools such as knitting needles, crochet hooks, sewing needles, cable needles, stitch markers and stitch holders, stationary and etc. I have to have a good choice of knitting needles as it is really important to find a right size of needles for every stitch and project. Even if I don’t have many WIPs at the same time I will need to jump between samples and projects and change knitting needles quite often.
2.    Resources: pattern books and studying materials.
3.    Equipment: computer plus software and backup hard drives, photo camera with number of lenses, printer and etc. I keep this cost to minimum because I draw charts for my pattern, take photos and write patterns by myself. So, the minimum software set for the job would be as follows: Chart editor, Word and Excel, Photoshop and Graphic editor for diagrams.
4.    I have to have a working space and I pay bills for energy and etc.
5.    Tech editing cost. Every pattern is tech edited and tech editor must be compensated for his time. The tech editing cost is based on hourly rate so it will depend on difficulty and size of a pattern and it costs roughly £40-60 for a single pattern.
6.    Photography cost. I don’t pay to models as my kids and myself are currently modelling my designs and my lovely husband helps me with taking of photos. I don’t pay them for their time but I still have to reward them.
7.    Broadband cost.
8.    Advertising.
9.    Selling sites fee, listing fee, PayPal fee. I pay PayPal fee for every single pattern. For example, on Etsy I have to pay a listing fee for every copy of pattern plus sale fee. Some sites have just fixed % fee based on monthly sales.
10.    Income tax and VAT.

Time cost:
From one side I’m very lucky as I work from home and I plan my working day by myself but there is another dark side of it. I don’t have a proper border line between my private life and my work. My time is not set up properly and I don’t really calculate it. I work every free minute. I can’t ignore emails from my lovely buyers and I try to reply as soon as I receive them. Even if the question is about some common techniques I will never ignore them and help to my buyers. So the time resources are as follows:
1.    The actual time for designing and knitting. Overall I need about 2 days for a simple hat knitted with Sport or DK weight yarn and about 2 weeks for a big project such as poncho. Normally it is not just a knitting time. It is also involved knitting of swatches and calculating of first sample. Very often I have to re-knit it a couple of times to make the garment fits properly and as designed.
2.    Actual time for calculating and pattern writing. This time depends on difficulty of the pattern. For a simple hat it would be as follows:
-    Calculating and pattern writing, layout, drawing of charts – 4-5 hours. (For comparison: for a child poncho knitted with cables I need about 24 hours to write charts for all sizes and write row-by-row instructions for them)
-    Photography – 1 hour
-    Photo editing – 1-2 hours. There will be additional couple of hours if the pattern contains photo-tutorial.
-    Editing – 1-2 hours
3.    Test knitting time. A lot of my patterns are test knitted. There are a couple of test groups on Ravelry and other places where test knitters are happy to help to check how the pattern works out and check a fit. They test knit the pattern for free or for a small reward. It is a huge help with the cost of pattern as most of the time test knitters use their own yarn. But there is still a time cost for the introducing of pattern, admin time and lots of emails and communication. Some designers pay for the yarn and test-knitters time too. So, the actual cost of test knitting varies a lot.
4.    Tech editing time. It depends on difficulty and size of the pattern and varies from 2 to 6 hours. 
5.    Time for publishing and introducing of new pattern. I don’t have my own online store yet, so I sell my patterns on number of knitting sites such as Ravelry, Etsy, Craftsy, Loveknitting and eBay. I need at least 1 hour for each of them to publish my new pattern and upload the photos. Then I need couple of hours to introduce my patterns in my blog and other social media.
6.    Printing time for eBay.

Additional costs:
1.    Advertising. There are so many great and popular knitting designers around so it is too easy to get lost. Because of that I have to pay for advertising of my patterns so knitters can see them. I try to keep the advertising cost down and use social media to promote my patterns by myself but I still pay to Ravelry and Etsy for it.
2.    I sell printed copies of my pattern on eBay. So there is an additional cost for the printer, ink, paper, envelopes and travel expenses to the post office. 

Other non-production cost:
There is still a lot of things are staying behind the scene. It is years and years of learning of different skills and techniques. I have been knitting since I was 8. So I’ve got years and years of practising. How much would you pay for years of developing skills? But pattern writing is not just about knitting. There are a lot of other skills involved which I had to study too: designing, pattern writing, photography, marketing, software and accounting. As I’ve already mentioned I’m self-employed so I must keep track of all my sales and expenses and provide a tax report on yearly basis. 

I try to save on some equipment. Usually I buy them on sales and don’t go to top level but you can’t buy them for life. They break down and need to be repaired or replaced after some time of use. 

Let’s be honest. I have got some designs and knitting patterns which have been sold just few times or even never. These patterns would never cover all expenses. It is not possible to predict knitters demand and level of competition and make every design popular and profitable. So, sometimes I do work with no profit or even with some losses.

Post-production cost:
Once the pattern is published its cost would never stop. First of all, it is a pattern support. I receive a lot of emails from knitters of different skill levels that ask for some help with some techniques or even adjusting a design for a different yarn. 

If any error would be found it would be additional cost for pattern checking, tech editing and sometimes even test knitting.  There is also time for uploading of revised version of the pattern to various sources
 and buyers notifications. 


The conclusion:
Having reading all of this you are probably thinking “if it is so complicated and time consuming why she is doing this”. The answer is not straightforward. There is no simple job and you would never know what could happen and where our life can lead you. I’ve got a master degree in laser technology and design and I have been worked as a laser optic engineer for over 13 years. Knitting and designing has been my favourite hobby for so many years. Then I got my first daughter in 2013, I was back to work part-time and then was redundant shortly. I live in a small town where my speciality is not popular (we moved there because of my husband job) and child care cost is rather expensive but we still have to pay our bills. I have some experience with number of different crafts. I’ve crocheted miniature OOAK Teddies (many bears live now in collections in different countries), needle felting, wet felting, knitting some custom orders. But since knitting has been my first and biggest love I continue developing it further and keep doing my little steps in this direction. Last year I have started working with Mary Maxim yarn company who include some of my patterns in their knitting kits and my older daughter is a top cover story of their 2017 spring knitting and crochet catalogue. I have received a lot of nice compliments and words from knitters from around the globe. So it is another reason to keep knitting and designing despite all difficulties. I really love sharing my knitting ideas with enthusiastic knitters and see their result of knitting.
I value my time as you do yours. What you get for a price of a pattern is a lot of time, experience, creativity and your pleasure of knitting. If you can’t afford to pay for single patterns I totally understand it but please do respect my right to charge for my work and my time.


  1. This is hands down the best explanation I've ever read. Thank you for taking the time to write it. I often have people ask why I hand make something for one of my daughters or a friend. I would add the love and satisfaction I receive when someone wears that gift. You may not often get that kind of feed back but rest assured there are many smiles you have created.

  2. What a fantastic article! I never knew how much time and effort went in to producing a pattern, not that I thought it was easy, I do sometimes make thing up, but I know that I will never be able to write a pattern to sell.
    I honestly think that people that question your or any other designer prices, does not value hand made things, and must think very little of their time and ability. You are so right, patterns in my experience, produce by individual designers ,are much better than comercial ones.
    Thanks for sharing this, your knowledge and beautiful patterns.

  3. Your explanation and experience mirrors that of many knit (and probably crochet) designers. Thank you for sharing this.