Pattern affordability

Financial accessibility is a discussion that’s risen to the forefront a few times in recent years. I’ve a lot to say about it, especially as someone who’s both disabled and working class, and who doesn’t have the financial support that it’s assumed designers have.

This is a hard industry to make a living in and most folks who stay the course usually do so because they can afford to not rely on pattern sales income. Yet it’s often forgotten that there’s a small group of us who don’t have those same privileges and it’s from that perspective that I want to write more. There’s a lot of words to be untangled before I’m ready to publish but whilst I’m working all that out I thought I’d post a reminder about the options I offer, both for folks who could use the help and for those wanting to help.

 

Pattern Discounts

Exclusive member discounts available through The Woolly Hat Society is the most effective way to buy Woolly Wormhead patterns, books or workshops at lower than usual prices.

Membership is free and all that’s needed to maintain membership is to open the newsletters regularly, but even then folks can re-join should their membership slip, or leave whenever they choose by simply using the ‘unsubscribe’ button. You don’t need to provide any details beyond your email address when you join, not even your name.

Using the exclusive discounts offered to members via the newsletter is anonymous, which is important. I know what it’s like living on the breadline and having to justify or explain your choices is hard.

 

Community Pattern Fund

Simply put, the Community Pattern Fund was set up as a way for folks who have the means to help folks who don’t.

A number of my forever free patterns have been formatted into convenient eBooks, bundled with the relevant tutorials, and are available at different price points. Folks can buy what they can afford and those purchases are converted to credits.

To hear of what credits are available, join The Woolly Hat Society. When new patterns, books or workshops are released a newsletter goes out to all members and if there are credits available they’ll be offered through the newsletter by way of limited 100% discount codes.

The free copies do go quickly and I often hear from folks who’ve missed out and are disappointed. I appreciate that this isn’t a perfect system and I’m working to improve it, feedback is welcome! For instance rather than offer credits in every newsletter, which might only be one or two, I save them up so that when I’ve bigger new releases, such as eBooks or workshops, I can offer a greater amount of free copies and there’s less of a rush.

The CPF patterns are only available on this website now; they were previously available through Ravelry and Payhip. For my own admin’s sake I’ve needed to limit where the CPF patterns are available, and in turn this makes it easier to manage and ensure more folks have a chance of getting something vis this system.

 

Gift Purchases

Ravelry provides the option to gift patterns or eBooks to another knitter, but it’s not the only platform to do so. I recently posted about how you can do this via Payhip, but since that post was published they’ve now implented the option to send a gift directly via Payhip’s regular cart! Gifting patterns or eBooks is a great way to help someone out if you know they’re keen to make something but can’t quite stretch to purchasing the pattern right now.

One thing I want to say is that I’m not keen on collecting details of folks who would like something but can’t afford it… I see it often and I know the intentions are good, but asking folks to get in touch to claim free copies or be matched with someone who can grant their wish leans into the whole shame and guilt thing about being poor. Even worse encouraging folks to post publicly about things they’d like to be anonymously gifted. We have enough of that to deal with already, y’know?

 

Free Patterns and Tutorials

I offer so many free patterns and tutorials! There’s near on 90 of each so far, at least? Or thereabouts, I’ve lost count.

I no longer offer these as PDFs to be downloaded freely however each blog post can be converted to PDF by right-clicking within your browser and selecting the print options. I’ve purposefully kept any chat on these posts towards the end so that you don’t waste ink when printing them out, likewise I’ve done lots of tests on image sizes and scaling to help ensure you have a range of options. The options on this site are limited as I’m currently using a very old version of Squarespace; there’ll be even more options available when we’ve finally moved to the new website.

All of my free content is supported by my Patreon supporters, and you will find the details about that at the top of each free pattern or tutorial post – it’s important that my supporters are credited and that folks know that these things aren’t free to produce. I’ve always offered free patterns and tutorials but some time back it all got unmanageable and I needed to look at ways of getting the free content covered financially – it was either that or remove it all and Patreon works really well.

Patreons and members of The Woolly Hat Society get early access to new free patterns and tutorials, and also get them in a convenient PDF format.

 

Patreon

This might not seem like it fits under a financial accessibility umbrella, yet there are financial benefits to becoming a supporter. Besides supporting all of the free content and translations, members also benefit from extra discounts. For instance the $1 per month tier, which can also be purchased annually at around $10.20, gives you a 20% anytime discount on ALL of my patterns, books and workshops. If you’re a knitter who buys around 10 Woolly Wormhead patterns per year this tier will save you money straight away. The higher the tier the higher the discounts, and the upper tiers also get a coupon to the value of a single pattern that folks can use however they wish.

So whilst Patreon isn’t free it can offer ways to save money.

 

Public Sales

I don’t run general or public sales often but it’s worth keeping an eye on this blog, following on Instagram or joining The Woolly Hat Society to get the latest news. When I do run general sales members of The Woolly Hat Society and Patreons are the first to know, and they also get deeper discounts.

 

Payment Options

I knew there’d be something I missed when I first posted!

Teachable, where my online classes are currently hosted, offer payment installment options. My $50 workshops have two payment options – pay in full or 2 x $25. My $75 workshops have 3 payment options – pay in full, 2 x $37.50 or 3 x $25. And the $100 bundle has 3 payment options – pay in full, 2 x $50 or 4 x $25.

I opted to not add interest to these because I didn’t want the workshops to end up more expensive if folks can’t afford to pay outright. I know offering installments costs more logistically, with fees and such or the risk of someone not completing payment, but raising the cost of installments to cover these is essentially what’s known as a ‘poverty tax’.

No other platforms offer payment options at the moment that I know of, at least the ones I’m using, but it is something I want to look into for the new website.

 

VAT-inclusive Pricing

And a 2nd thing I forgot when I first posted!

This is a contentious issue and some would argue that it doesn’t belong in a post about pattern affordability or accessibility, but to my mind it does – let me explain.

VAT is generally around 20%, sometimes as high as 27%, which is a LOT when it’s added on top, and it usually wipes out any benefit from promotional discounts. Many European governments have started to drop the rate of digital VAT, depending on the product, but not all of the platforms charge the current rate – Etsy and Ravelry, I’m looking at you – which means customers end up paying even more VAT when they don’t need to should shops go with VAT-exclusive pricing.

On every platform that will let me – and Etsy and Patreon are the only ones that currently don’t – all of my prices are VAT-inclusive which means folks who live in Europe don’t pay extra due to where they happen to live. I’d really like to offer the same to folks in Australia and New Zealand for GST – I was disappointed in Ravelry for not offering a GST-inclusive option when it was introduced – but I should be able to manage that on the new website, if all goes to plan.

If it helps any, I shared a couple of posts about different VAT options on Payhip – VAT-inclusive pricing and enabling VAT B2B sales. As far as I know I’ve on average more European customers than other designers; I’m also an EU business with an accountant who reports and submits my VAT for me. I feel pretty strongly that my flat prices should be the same for everyone, regardless of where they live, and that these kinds of taxes are the costs of running a business, but I know not everyone agrees.

 

Options I’m Not Considering

I know these’ll come up, they always do, so I’ll save us all some time and pre-empt a few questions or suggestions!

Folks have often suggested a pay-what-you-want system but it won’t work for me for a few reasons. Firstly, there aren’t any platforms that offer the kind of functionality that a system like this really needs. To try and make it work on all the platforms I sell on is impossible, and on those platforms where I can control the discounts and price it’d be a ridiculous amount of admin when you’ve 250+ products like I have. Payhip does have a way to set a minimum price so that folks can pay more but it’s the only one that does, and my minimum prices wouldn’t be a lot different to my regular prices anyway.

Secondly, a pay-what-you-want system offers a moral dilemma and I’m not sure everyone’s aware of that aspect. When you’re poor, or just about managing, having to choose what you pay can trip you into another guilt or shame spiral. Do you spend the extra dollar on that designer, knowing their pattern is worth it, or do you save that extra dollar to spend on something else you may need or want? Having a flat price or a flat discount removes much of that.

I could support the free content on this website with advertising but I generally find adverts intrusive and they generally make everything more inaccessible, especially pop-up videos or things with instant sound. I’m not convinced that advertising on a niche site like mine would be that beneficial, either; it certainly wouldn’t remove the need for me to charge for premium stuff! I’d much rather use Patreon and be transparent about funding.

And finally…. nope, lowering prices is not the way to go. This shouldn’t be a race to the bottom. This industry has long suffered with the notion that patterns should be free, or cheap, or that they’re quick to produce or are only useful for selling yarn. There’s too many folks who don’t need to rely on pattern sales offering their patterns for free or next to nothing, and all they do is devalue the work that goes into a pattern and make it harder for anyone to make a living. This is one topic where I want to untangle my words and get a longer post out so I’ll leave this there for now.

I’m sure there’s a few things I’ve missed off this round-up – I’ll edit this post if I think of any!

This post might read a lot like “sign up to get the free stuff!” and I know folks aren’t always keen to sign up just to get free stuff. For a long time I wasn’t happy doing that either, I get it. But I can’t afford to offer everything free just like that.

Joining The Woolly Hat Society really is the best way all round to benefit and all it takes is an email address and reading the newsletters – nothing else. I’m not interesting in mining your data, I’m simply trying to run my business in a way that works for me so that I can support my family. Folks are probably bored of hearing me say this by now but we need to remember that financial accessibility isn’t a one-way street.

eta/ this post was updated on 11th March 2022 with a new post graphic. The image shows the crown of my Pleated Beret pattern.

Woolly Wormhead

Woolly Wormhead is an internationally reknowned knit designer, specialising in Hats, technique and construction. Their patterns and techniques have been used by thousands of knitters worldwide. Join The Woolly Hat Society to be the first to learn of their latest projects and special offers!

2 Comments

  1. Desiree

    Thank you for sharing this – it’s a great article and shows you’ve thought a lot about what’s possible and realistic for you, while still keeping your audience very much at the heart of it all. And it can’t be said enough, SO much work goes into producing patterns and the designer shouldn’t be taking the hit so that makers can have free or cheap patterns. Thank you for having the values and ethos you do.

    Reply
    • Woolly Wormhead

      Thank you! It’s not easy finding the right balance but it’s important to me to reviewing things often.

      So much work does go into a pattern, yes! Over time some patterns or methods seemingly get easier – but that’s our skills developing, and it saddens me when it’s underestimated or undervalued.

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *