Why We Released a Pattern Beyond Our Membership (and How to Get It)

7 December 2021
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Last week we released the Bespoke Cardigan knitting pattern by Holli Yeoh (follow that link to purchase it!). Just like every pattern we’ve released, it was immediately available to Studio Members of Digits & Threads. But unlike any pattern we’ve released, it’s also for sale at a discount to Armchair Members, and at full price to anyone at all. Why, over a year after launching the magazine, did we decide to do things so differently?

It started when Holli sent in the final pattern for technical editing. Kate, who does all of our tech editing, messaged me immediately to report that the pattern was long. Not in a bad way! As she worked on it, I received updates from her that the pattern is brilliant, genius, clever, thorough, and generally was blowing her mind. The length of it isn’t because it’s overly wordy.

The pattern is long because Holli did exactly what she pitched to us when we considered her design submission: She designed a gender- and size-inclusive garment. To achieve both, she graded the pattern to fourteen sizes, took gender out of the sizing and styling altogether, and included options for narrow and broad shoulders, and for regular and tall lengths.

Is the pattern overly complicated because of these details? Not at all. It’s a bit like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, though. We recommend knitters read through the whole pattern before beginning, and highlight only the sections that are needed for the sizes and options they choose.

As Kate and Holli continued their work on the technical edit, Kate made an offhand remark that Holli should make as much money as possible from this design, and not have to wait eighteen months. (A standard clause in our contracts with designers is that eighteen months after publication, the designer regains the right to publish the pattern on their own.)

And I said, “Well, why shouldn’t she?” Which is how we came to sort out how and why we would make an exception to our policy of offering craft patterns exclusively to Studio Members.

When the tech edit was completed, the pattern came to me for layout, which we had already known would have to be more like an ebook than a standard knitting pattern. Indeed, the PDF came out to be thirty pages long. Again, not because it’s overly complicated or verbose, but because including many size and fit options takes space on the page. And as a digital publication, we have no limits on that. It’s unlikely a design like this could find a home in a print publication with limited page space.

A major reason Digits & Threads craft patterns are available only to Studio Members is that they take more resources to create than articles do. They involve higher fees to the contributor, both technical and copy editing, and more involved page layout. We dream of one day having budget enough to hire photographers to shoot our pattern photos.

In other words, patterns cost more to publish in both time and money. In the case of Bespoke, all of these costs were amplified, and we couldn’t have been happier or more eager to commit the resources to bringing it into the world. It benefits both Holli and our business to offer the pattern for sale beyond our membership.

To be clear, the best way to support our ability to continue publishing extraordinary ideas and patterns is to contribute to the predictable, sustained budget we need to pay for this work—that’s monthly or annual membership.

Bespoke may not be the only pattern we release to non-members. We look forward to sharing the talents and creativity of Canadian designers with as many people as possible. And we feel immense gratitude to our members, who make it possible for us to do this work.

The Bespoke Cardigan is not only a very well designed garment with options to fit a diversity of bodies and style preferences. It’s also the kind of design we want to see more of in the world—designs without assumptions based on gender, without assumptions based on how clothes “should” fit, without excluding very small or very large sizes.

Can one pattern change the world, or even the craft-pattern world? No, of course it can’t. But one pattern can add to a conversation and a movement. One pattern can make folks feel seen, accepted, and valued. Today, that pattern is the Bespoke Cardigan. Learn more about it and purchase it here.

Copyright © Kim Werker except as indicated.

About Kim Werker

Kim Werker (she/her) is a co-founder and publisher at Digits & Threads and Nine Ten Publications. She has worked in the crafts industry in one way or another since 2004 as an editor, writer, instructor and speaker. She's authored six books about crochet and one about making ugly things on purpose as a creativity exercise. Kim lives in Vancouver, BC, with her husband and son, and their mutt who's named after a tree.

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