haiti appeal

17 January 2010

If you’ve been around this blog a while, you’d know that I sometimes write up my designs and make them available for download here.  I’ve always done this for free, for reasons which you can read about over the fold if you’re interested.

During January and February 2010, I am going to charge US$3 for my susie pattern.  All proceeds will be will be donated to Médecins Sans Frontières Australia’s appeal for victims of the Haiti earthquake.

You can now purchase the pattern from the machen|machen Ravelry store for US $3.

If you’re an Australian resident and have already donated to any Haiti appeal, you can email machenmachen@gmail.com with a copy of your receipt and I’ll send you the pattern in return.

:: why I don’t sell my patterns

  1. I don’t need the money from my designs. I know a lot of people feel strongly that paying for a design is part of showing respect to the designer’s skills and hard work. That’s probably true. For me, seeing people make my stuff is enough of a reward, but I am lucky enough to have a day job, one that I like, one that’s fulfilling, and one that pays me very well.
  2. I think humans have evolved with a deep need to be creative. Modernity often asks us to replace creative expression with purchased products. I don’t think its possible to satisfactorily replace a multi-layered creative experience with a cash transaction. I didn’t want to ask people to pay to take part in a creative process. It’s also why I make the designs available for personal use only.
  3. I want people to make them and get a kick out of it. Charging is a barrier to wider dissemination of the designs and the fun.

The above also flow into my answer to another question I’m often asked: why don’t you make Wasp Bags for sale?  As I said, I don’t need the money (and on a selfish level, making Wasp Bags would take up my free time and would not generate enough cash to make up for that). And I would rather people have a go at making my bag than buying it from me.

I had to reconsider all of this late last year, after I found someone selling Wasp Bags on Etsy for around $40-$50 each. It made me angry: if I’d decided to not sell the bags or the pattern, if I believed in points (1) and (3) above, did I have a right to make a fuss?  After a lot of thinking, I decided that point (2) was the important one. By selling bags based on my pattern, this person was turning my creative process back into the transaction that I had rebelled against in the first place.  After some rather firm emails from me, the seller took the bags off sale. I was pleased that I didn’t have to resort to Etsy’s legal process for enforcing design copyright. And I’m even more pleased that over 16,000 people have downloaded the Wasp Bag pattern.


3 Responses to “haiti appeal”

  1. bellsknits said

    All good reasons. I still think a good pattern is worth paying for but your reasons for not selling are admirable.

    I just bought it. I mean to make a hat like this as a gift soon and this pattern is just what I’m after! Thanks Alison!

  2. Kelly said

    I agree with Bells completely. I can also relate to the reasons for your not wanting to make and sell Wasp Bags yourself. A couple of people from work, and my sister at Christmas time, have commented that I should knit things and sell them. I’ve always been opposed to the idea because I think it would take the enjoyment out of knitting, how much do you charge for your time (most of the things I knit would end up being prohibitively expensive for this reason, if I decided to sell what I knit) and I just prefer making gifts – the looks on people’s faces when they reaslise something has been made for them by hand beats getting money in return any day! 🙂

  3. WithaQ said

    I have knitted for money in the past, but only for people who truly appreciate hand made gifts and do not have the skills or time to make something themselves. I pick my customers carefully. The money is in no way paying for my time, but I get a kick out of it and only do it when all the boxes are ticked. I don’t do deadlines either. I make a point of spending the money on something special that I would normally not purchase – luxury yarn, designer patterns, etc.

    Your reasons for not charging are admirable reasons, and yes – you have every right to be cranky at the bag seller!

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