Monday, February 7, 2011

Patternfish vs. Ravelry

I've had a few questions about why I haven't yet listed my patterns on Ravelry as well as on Patternfish.

I'm so new at being a professional Knitter that I'm just starting to find my personal path. I've had lots and lots of advice from many people which I truly appreciate. The problem with some of that advice has been that often it is completely the opposite from the last person I spoke to. As an example, some say I should only self publish and never give up my ownership of the copyright on items I design. Others say that if I don't get into Vogue and Interweave Knits I will never gain the attention of enough Knitters to make money. Some tell me I have to get a book deal. Others tell me they make so little from books that if it wasn't for alternate avenues of income they could not survive.

At this point every decision I make is just for right now and I may reverse it at any time in the future.

My reasons for publishing only with Patternfish as of today are:

  1. I have a personal relationship with Julia  Grunau.
  2. It's a Canadian company.
  3. Publishing in more venues means more administration work for me.
  4. There has been some discussion about the perception of designers who publish on Ravelry.

Number 4 became a hotly discussed issue at a recent KNIT monthly meeting. I think the problem was that I quoted what someone else said to me which was "that the Ravelry designers seem to be less professional". Now that I've mulled the topic over a little more I think the difference is actually one of self publishing vs. traditional publishing designers. I questioned the group for reasons as to why I should publish in both places since I have already created a designers page on Ravelry which showcases all of my available patterns and gives a link to Patternfish. The best reason suggested was that some Knitters might not want to create a Patternfish account so perhaps I'm losing out on some sales. If you feel that way could you please let me know in the comments section of this post?

I do by the way plan to publish a test pattern on Ravelry in the near future to see what I can learn from that experience.

I would also like to wholesale paper copies of patterns so if any yarn shop owners,  vendors at the retail yarn shows or hand dyers are interested please get in touch with me.


  1. I wonder why people don't think of Ravelry as a professional opportunity? Is it the age of Ravelry? Or the age of the person saying Ravelry isn't for them?

    vogue, interweave, and yes Knitters print patterns and there are errors in their magazines how is that different from a pattern on ravelry? There is no difference.

    As someone who works in publications, there is very little difference to me. The manner in which the pattern is transmitted is all that matters to me. If I am on vacation, stopping into a store and they have a print pattern, and yarn right there am I willing to purchase it? Yes. If I search through the internet, find a cardigan I love I can buy the pattern online and then go either online or to a lys and purchase the yarn. Is there a difference? Not to me.

    All I want is a flattering design, well designed, and available to me. Vogue, Knitters, Interweave and whomever else is going to learn how to better negoiate publishing rights, fees, tech editing, etc and designers are going to have to look out after themselves. Which is better for them. Maybe certain patterns return to them after a period of time, or rights are held by the publisher with an additional fee to the designer. Or maybe something else entirely. Maybe the designer only works for the yarn company with teaching rights on their patterns.

    All designers are now entering new terrority. I also understand how some knitters don't have the access to every pattern, and want things free. well, free has its own unique patterns and own problems.

  2. One thing I love about buying patterns from Ravelry is that they are also stored in my Ravelry library. This means I can access them from any computer. If my hard drive fries and takes all my files with it then no problem. Regarding the "less professional" comment, it IS easy for anyone to call themselves/set themselves up as a designer on Ravelry (is this different on Patternfish?) but as a buyer you can soon tell by comments, pattern popularity, how the pattern is set up etc just who knows what they are doing. (I must admit that I haven't yet looked at Patternfish and I both buy & sell patterns on Ravelry.)

  3. I'm surprised by #4. It seems something of a simplification, as there are designers of all stripes on Ravelry. As a tool for designers, the Ravelry shop set-up is fantastic and requires very little administration. Plus, you can include Rav-generated code on your own site to sell immediate downloads of your pattern without the buyer having to be a Ravelry member. You only pay (a small percentage of your sales) a monthly fee *if* you sell over a certain amount. And you can update your pattern downloads and send out a message to all previous purchasers with a few clicks and taps, on the off-chance that you have a pattern with an error in it.
    As for IK/VK and other publications, the problem is one of rights and low pay. I prefer to maintain my rights, though that reduces my exposure in some circles; however, I've been pleased with the publicity afforded me by publishing a pattern occasionally with, though their pay is a modest honorarium, it is a highly respected publication and allows me to maintain my rights.

  4. it's interesting what you say about designers who publish on Ravelry may be seen as 'less professional'. I suppose anyone can set up a designer profile on Ravelry and post a pattern. I started out selling on Ravelry and only fairly recently started selling on Patternfish. As a UK based designer, I think Patternfish reaches a different market for me than Ravelry might. I think Ravelry is more international whereas Patternfish is still more Northern American. Or at least that's my perception. On Ravelry I can sell in British pounds.

    I've just started doing whole sale to shops at a small level and this is something I want to expand.

    As for selfpublishing vs big magazines. Somehow people have to get to know about you however you choose to publish. You can design the most fantastic patterns but if noone knows you exist you won't sell. I started self-publishing then started contacting British magazines and last year I almost exclusively designed for mags and i think it has made my name known to more people and increased my profile.

    I'm not targeting American mags but my longterm future plan is to do more self-publishing but right now I need magazine commissions to make money. Selfpublishing doesn't pay enough yet.

    I'd also like to write a book and I'm working on a book proposal but magazine work keeps me so busy it's difficult to fit it in. LOL. I think ultimatley as a designer you need several venues to make enough money as it's a fairly low paid job.

    I love reading your blog interviews and find it very inspirational and learn a lot from them. Keep up hte good work and sorry for the long comment.

  5. It's funny, I was just having this conversation with myself this morning. I have patterns on both, downloadable from a LYS, and wholesale hard copy via a distributor. The one think that I like about Patternfish is that anyone shopping there expects to pay for a pattern, as there are no free patterns, unlike Ravelry. Many lookers on Ravelry only want freebies. However, at the moment, I am doing both. I don't submit to magazines because of the tight timelines. I have a full time (non knitting) job that I like, teach knitting, and write patterns. I haven't wanted to take on additional stress. One of these days.

  6. i can't even figure out how to make a patternfish account

    1. Hi Rose I just saw this comment. Patternfish closed down their site as of June 2019