Friday 21 September 2018

The Downside To Pattern Downloads

There's no doubt that Ravelry, the online community for knitters, has revolutionised the distribution of patterns. In the olden days if you wanted a new pattern you would buy a magazine or mosey on down to your local wool shop where there would be racks of them to browse through, published by the major knitwear companies to support their yarns.

Image courtesy of Ravelry

Now, thanks to the internet and Ravelry, designers all over the world can find an audience to showcase and sell their designs to. These sole-trader designers aren't tied to a particular company or brand and are free use whichever yarn they choose - for some talented spinners this even includes their own! It's a fabulous and gloriously democratic step forward.

To buy a pattern online all you have to do is fill in your payment details and then - voila! - the pattern of your choice is available to download. No P&P charges or waiting for the postie to arrive.

For me, however, the novelty of patterns on demand has worn off and it's because of having to print them out myself. I wish there were an option on Ravelry to pay postage and have a ready-printed version sent out to me. Here's why. Do you agree?

1. My printer is a bog-standard one and colour is notoriously hard to print out, resulting in patches and streaks. Even black and white printouts (and yes, I've cleaned the head and done every other maintenance job) usually contain some white streaks. That's if it prints out at all, as every now and then the printer has a strop and declares it can't connect to the wi-fi.

2. Designers spend a lot of time lovingly creating their patterns, which often run to multiple pages with lots of photos and sometimes even essays explaining their inspiration. Great to look at in a book but not practical when printing all the pages out - all that's necessary is the pattern.

3. Printing out multiple page downloads with lots of colour uses up a lot of ink, which is rather annoying when you run out halfway through. Plus ink cartridges are very expensive. This article says that per ounce, printer ink costs more than twice that of the same amount of Dom Perignon champagne. I know which I'd rather buy!

4. Where physical patterns are available to buy online or in yarn shops they're printed on thick paper or card. This makes them far more robust than your average printer paper and they'll withstand a lot of use plus the scribbling I like to do on them to circle the size I'm knitting and so on.

Raven image courtesy of Marie Wallin
Last week I went to Marie Wallin's website to catch up on what she's doing. I cheered inwardly when I saw she has a printed pattern section. I bought the jumper pattern Raven (see above). For £5 plus £1.80 postage I received a few days later in the post a beautifully designed cardboard pattern leaflet.

So here's my plea to indie designers who sell on their own websites and on Ravelry. Please include an option to have a printed copy posted to the purchaser when he or she buys a pattern. Many people love downloads as they're quick and easy (especially if they have a super-duper work printer they can sneakily print them out on!) but some of us don't and prefer a digital copy as a back up and to read whilst we're waiting for the physical copy to arrive in the post.

What do you think? Are you a download or a printed pattern person? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

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