Only From the Mind of Interweave

For those of you who don't know (and this is many) I'm about to become an Interweave contributor. Or rather, the contribution was long ago; it's due to be published soon. I think. I actually don't know, and will be just as surprised as you are to see my name among the pages.

Interweave recently contacted us contributors about participating in a pattern-on-demand service. Meaning that instead of hunting down a back issue of Interweave (or more accurately, grabbing a copy from your friend's bookshelf and scanning it) you can simply go to the website and download (for a fee) a copy of a particular pattern. [I don't know if articles will also be available in this way.]

This is a great way to determine which patterns are standing the test of time, and more significantly to halt (or at least slow) copyright infringement. It'll probably encourage more of us to knit from back issues. Why go through the trouble of hunting down an entire issue of a magazine when you need only one or two pages? Doesn't that seem like a waste? You no longer need your friend's bookshelf when you can download and print a clean beautiful copy of the desired pattern from your computer.

At first only a selection of the Interweave catalogue will be available in this way. Let's hope that it continues to expand as this service proves popular.

What got me thinking about the importance of this matter in more depth was a recent search for a sock pattern. Someone somewhere recently completed a pair of socks, and linked to the pattern. I don't know who the heck this was, and if someone does know, please email me. I liked the pattern immediately. It is, however, out of stock at The Loopy Ewe. Drat and darn. I'll have to wait until it restocks.

Imagine if TLE had a setup much like Chicknits, whereby once you pay your money you get an email with a PDF version of your pattern. No more waiting, and more importantly no more inventory issues for the shop.

I'm singling out TLE and Wendy Knits, but only because it's topical for me. This is far from the only designer/shop relationship with this type of pattern distribution setup.


Wendy doesn't want to have her patterns published on line so chose to use the hard format. Many designers are not happy about IKs contract and the publishing of their patterns on-line. It's good for the consumer, but maybe not so good for the designer.

I'm one of the ones who didn't know - so I wanted to say "congrats"!! I can't wait to see it!!

I personally love/prefer to be able to pay a fee and download a PDF of a pattern rather than have a hard copy. There are enough pieces of paper in my life, and I make a copy of whatever pattern I'm working on so I can write on it and not the original anyway....

I much prefer PDF downloads for the simple reason that it's much cheaper than ordering paper versions internationally. Also US patterns don't usually fit European files/binders because they use a different paper size - A4 vs. letter, I think.

While I redognize that the immediacy and ready availability of downloadable pdfs is a good thing in many ways, it can be a bad thing for a designer.

My experience: I was selling a couple of patterns via pdf download from my website. I got an email from someone who had my pattern, asking for help. She had not purchased it from me. I asked her where she got it and she said "Oh, someone in my knitting group passed out copies to everyone in the group."

This is why I will no longer sell patterns via pdf download.

Oh, and while I realize that people can make copies of hard copy patterns too, they do seem to print out pdfs more freely. And email them to other people as well.

I LOVE the accessibility of being able to get pdfs online.... as a knitter.
As a designer, I worry that once that pdf is downloaded the person who has it can print as many copies as s/he wants, and thus I may not SELL as many as I would have without it. This doesn't really halt copyright infringement ... it makes it easier in some ways -- at least w/ hard copies you had to go to a copy machine. I assume that this means now, when you sell a pattern to IK, you sell the right to print unlimited copies forever. Then, if they later make patterns available online for free, it reduces their income, but not yours, I assume you get paid more for that. That said, pdf's sure save on printing costs for the pattern writer/distributor...

I'm of two minds on this. While PDFs are MUCH easier (especially when the inevitable problems arise with patterns - just send out the newest version to all who purchased it), I've been accused of stealing PDFs in the past which couldn't be further from the truth. It was all resolved, but I couldn't help but feel like if there had been hard copies, it may have alleviated some of the stress the designer and I felt at the time.

Congrats to you! Can't wait to see your contribution! :)

I prefer PDF download of patterns as well (and being able to buy single patterns from back issues of IK? that would be sweet!).

In my other life, I'm a software developer and I've had to deal with software piracy for years -- so when I am dealing with patterns or music copyright, I associate them all together.

Because of this, I DON'T think people print out more copies of PDFs than they do with hard copies of patterns, frankly. I've seen people make copies of hard copies of patterns before (and have started a copyright discussion with them on it; a lot of people don't really understand US copyright law). The fact is that these days, it's just as easy to print out a PDF 5 times as it is to photocopy a pattern 5 times and no method of delivery is going to stop someone who doesn't understand or respect the copyright from making illegal copies.

Congratulations! And I think the downloadable patterns are a great idea: I live in Britain and it's dead hard to track down copies over here.

Congrats! I can't wait to see your pattern and your name in print.

And I'm so thrilled to hear that IK may do the back pattern offer. There are plenty of things I'd knit if I could easily get my hands on the pattern via a pdf. Because you can bet I will NEVER order a back issue! Not that I'm opposed to it or anything - I'm just extremely lazy. If I can get instant gratification via the internet, I'll knit it. If not, well, there are plenty of other easily accessable things out there for me to knit.

I would love to be able to use this service, not only for magazines, but books. I recently waited for a book to go on sale, because there is only one sweater in it that could/would/want to make. Bought it at half price, passed it around at SnB, and several people want to "borrow" it to make copies. It would have been great to be able to tell them how to get a PDF copy or, in one case, to buy a pattern for the woman who understood why I said no. I explained about copyright, as far as I can understand it, and was called a meanie. I replied that at least I was an honest meanie.

What a dilemma. As a knitter, I think that it is great that patterns can be more available. I agree about the frustration of waiting for a pattern (or book,even) to arrive in the mail. I wonder how some of the wash cloth designers feel about this. They sell some of their patterns as PDFs, some in pattern books, and give some freely. Are they happy with the way it is working? How do they decide which to do "what" with?

Congratulations on the pattern publication!

Many congrats! I'm hoping they'll plug your website; otherwise, I hope you'll be the only Colleen. :)

I think the pdf download is a good idea for convenience. But if you calculate the cost of each pattern using the cost of the magazine, each pattern turns out to be really cheap. So unless IK will sell the individual downloads for those prices, I highly doubt that I would participate in the downloading. I know convenience has its price, but I'd much rather get the whole magazine and get more for my money.

PDF's do make copyright infringement easier, but (IMVHO) I don't think avoiding pdf's will make that much difference considering P2P networks and scanners ;) Most people don't mind taking an extra step or two to share/get something for free; and with the internet, those "extra steps" are all of perhaps 3 mouse clicks and/or 5 minutes spent on the web.

Oof, it's a tough call. On one hand, I love the instant gratification of downloading and printing a PDF, but on the other, it does open doors to multiple printings. However, I think that it's just as easy to photocopy a pattern from a book! All in all, I prefer modern technology. And I think most knitters do too :)

Congrat!!! I personally would like to have the PDF file patterns to look though. How many magazine have I gotten that were a waste of money because it had 1 or maybe 2 things in there to knit. Then you rip out the pattern stick it in a binder. This way you won't add to the killing of trees and filling up the landfills with dead magazines. Great Job I am anxious to see your article in print.

Are they doing PDFs for "all" designs? Or just ones from no-longer-available back issues? Because to me, that makes a difference. If you're talking about a design that can't be gotten any other way, the risk of PDF-piracy seems reasonable to me--at least people who really wanted the pattern could get it, even if you then had to trust that they wouldn't cheat and illegally share it. But if it's a pattern that's still available as a back issue . . . no. Because it does open things up to less-than-admirable behavior, and why do that if you don't have to?

If someone's going to copy, they will copy whether it's PDF or paper so I'm not sure just paper stops it - if the mentality is to copy that's what they'll do regardless.

I hope they go trough with the pattern for download. Getting interweave here in norway is difficult at best, so getting the patterns online would be nice.

But I do hope that they pay designers additonally for those copies. It's published in a different venue after all.

That kills me. I had asked for something like that not too long ago and was told that they would never make their patterns available electronically. I replied that I would never purchase an IK subscription, because I don't really do well with hard copy formats (which is true - I pretty much destroy actual paper like a puppy with a wood pulp fetish), so to see this as a possibility? Cracks me up.

Another vote for the PDF camp.I think the belief that distributing hard copies prevents pirating is misguided. Access to scanners and photocopiers is too easy these days. Someday, someone will develop an iTunes for PDFs. And soon after that, someone will hack it.

High shipping and handling costs will often dissuade me from ordering a hard copy pattern.

I think that in IK's particular situation the downloadable patterns are a wonderful idea, as long as the designers are happy with this new interpretation of their contracts. I do think that they should have the right to say no to the new format for their patterns - it would be too bad to have to scrap the idea because a few people are bound to get fussed about it, so it would be nice if they could just opt out. The other issue this would alleviate regards online sales of hardcopy patterns - I work in a yarn store that does online retail, and it seems beastly to me to have to charge the flat $6.50 shipping for a single pattern that costs $6 or less.

In general, I find I'm torn about the copyright issues. Of course designers deserve to be compensated for their work, and any thoughtful person should be able to see how hard it is to make a living from this kind of craft. But we can't all afford to buy every beautiful knitting book we desire, and I believe in the fair use of being able to lend an inspiring pattern book to a friend just as I'd lend a good novel. It's a ticklish business.

And as I meant to put right up top, CONGRATULATIONS, Colleen!

Congratulations!! Can't wait to see the pattern. I'm not going to weigh in on the argument. I understand both sides and their reasons. I'm not sure either side is stronger.

It is so much work to write a pattern, that I don't object to whatever a designer wants to do for distribution.

PDFs are the way to go. I ordered a Fiddlesticks pattern recently and they only do paper...irritated me to no end, especially as none of the LYS around here stock them. I wanted to get it on the needles for a trip; it couldn't happen.

I know people also make money off of the shipping costs, but let that be absorbed into a higher pattern price--fine with me. Just don't make me WAIT.

And they say knitting requires patience. Ha!

Huzzah! Congratulations! Couldn't have happened to a nicer Colleen :o)

Re: print or PDF? I sympathize with the copyright dilemma. Why not offer the option of both, if at all feasible. I like the feel of a card stock pattern, though I notice lately that some printed patterns are being shipped as inkjet printouts on standard paper to keep costs low. My first thought was, "I could've done this at home!"

Beyond that, what is a knitter to do when the printed copy gets damaged? My feline chews paper and plastic, so the protective sleeve with an immediate draw for him. Thankfully, the designer accepted my explanation and sent me another copy.

Firstly - Congrats!
As for the discussion...I'm a designer and although I understand both sides -- bring on the PDFs!!!

What an interesting conversation! I really just wanted to say congratulations on your new publication... I can't wait to see!

Congratulations! I can't wait to see what you've designed. Thanks for prompting such an interesting discussion, too.

Congratulations!!! Very, very cool. I've (or one of my pins) made it into the Holiday Gifts issue!

I know that previously IWk would copy a pattern and send a black and white to you. Alice Starmore stopped IWK from sending out her pattern that appeared in the magazine. The contracts for designers should be amended and secondly the designer should/ask for compensation, or limited time for them to offer the pattern.


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