Posted in Knitting
August 18, 2010

Deeply flawed expectations

I’ve got books on the brain.
(First of all, though, go check out this lovely interview Tara did with me, I really enjoyed it. That Tara. She is up to awesome on a regular basis these days).
As I mentioned in the last post, at the moment I am working on my fall/winter pattern collection, the 10+ Fresh Designs books (what am I going to DO when Abra is gone?), a handful of others (Sarah Jo is working on charts for Hunter’s book right now), and some other stuff of a book-y nature I can’t even talk about yet.
And then I had serious “aaaagh!”-induced insomnia last night where you can’t sleep because there is just too much to think about and you can’t shut off your brain, which resulted in me reading this, at which point I became so angry I was pretty much incoherent on top of insomniariffic. Or, as I put it on Twitter, discussing it with some other people:

  • How many more times do we need to have this discussion? http://bit.ly/9Q6QNX Do I need to polish up my clue stick?
  • @weebilsurglace Yes, the word ‘hypocrite’ comes to mind, shortly after an off-color comment about spelling, grammar and punctuation.
  • Oh, @teajoygreye, whatever do you mean? When I am not eating bonbons, I am counting my enormous stacks of cash and supervising the help.
  • Agreed, @KristenTenDyke. Oh, @theshizknit, stop lying. We know you’ve got a Bentley in the garage and you polish it with $20 bills.
  • Hey @threesheeps! This is what mah clue stick looks like! http://twitpic.com/2fr9qc
  • @presentsknits Imagine how much her profit margin would be slashed if she had to hire a proofreader. #bitch #mymiddlename
  • See, @amykjensen, it’s people like you that keep us all from throwing in the towel. Thank you. You’ll never know how much we appreciate it.
  • @knitbrit Oh darling, the Bahamas are so 2005. This year it’s all about the Yugoslavian Riviera. My masseur Hans told me so.
  • Warning, if you haven’t been following along: tonight’s tweets are all about #sarcasm #cynicism #satire #invective #mockery and #scorn

(I felt I needed to explain what was going on in the last tweet, just in case anyone had tuned in late, because obviously, there are still some people out there who think designers are getting rich off their work. My tax returns argue otherwise, friends, and I do this full time).
On one hand, I feel as if it’s the community’s responsibility to educate this person as to how very, very wrong their assumptions are. On the other, I feel as if that’s already been going on for a long time now and if you’re willfully ignoring the large number of designers who have spoken out on this very topic, well, you can’t be helped. Your perception of what’s going on is somewhere south of Cluetown and somewhere east of Reality.
I would love to share the list of expenses I incur to bring a single pattern to the table with this person, but then again, it would probably be like talking to a brick wall. Technical editing, chartmaking, sample knitting, yarn purchasing, internet hosting, (let’s not forget eating and all that good stuff), and opportunity cost add up. I was, however, glad to see so many people stepping up to challenge the dumb assertions made in a reasonable way. The message is getting through to most people, it’s the holdouts that drive me crazy.
After paying $100+ (and that’s with insurance, mind you) for a simple doctor’s office visit with antibiotics last month, I wish more people gave their work away for free…but that’s not how the world works. Why should it be any different for the members of my profession?

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  • Erica

    I understand your frustration, and that of other folks making their living within the arts, very well. I’ve been a professional performing musician for 13 years (since I was 12) and have since added fiddle instructor and most recently knitwear designer (thanks to your encouragement/inspiration, which I’ll never forget) to my list of endeavors. Over the years I’ve met so many people that don’t understand working within a creative field and undervalue those folks that do. They feel it’s not “real work” as they define such in their [apparently very narrow] minds. Mostly I can relate all this to the musical field since that is where I have the most experience. Unfortunately there are musicians out there that do nothing to help the cause of those that want to make the field their work. The people that have day jobs and will play for free, the people that don’t believe in themselves or making it so have given up, or those that are lucky enough not to need to make money are all out there performing for free and making it desperately hard for the musicians that want to be doing this for a living and provide a professional show. Many times when booking a gig I’ll hear “and just why should I pay you?” (usually it’s not worded so kindly) I don’t know, why do you get paid for your job?
    You’re right, it would be like beating your head against a brick wall to talk to the person in question. There’s just so much head beating one person can handle. I personally have had more than my share of it this summer and have been on the verge of a complete breakdown.
    Good luck with your insomnia and the evil clueless clowns. :o)

    Reply to Erica
  • MJ

    Oh Shannon
    Are you saying, you’re not listed under Forbes lists? Aren’t you living in a mansion, lounge by poolside having grapes fed by your cabana boys? OMG!!!
    This totally reminds me of that kid from June, the one who was trying to haggle down the lesson fee from Arabella: http://www.knitgrrl.com/?p=1097 Yes, I’m quoting your post back to you!
    It’s a shame, that someone who is obviously clueless and unfamiliar with such topic, decided to be extremely vocal (in negative manner, nontheless) about things that he really doesn’t “get it”.
    You can’t fix stupid (stupidity always comes along with its partner in crime: stubbornness) – just like you can’t teach your cat to clean out his/her own litter box. Actually, you may have a better luck teaching your cat.

  • Beverly

    In addition to my work as a teacher and writer, I’m also a writing consultant. I started my business when one too many people gave me their stories and asked for feedback. They were not readers with whomI was interested in exchanging stories, and several were shocked when I told them my rate. I guess creative people are not supposed to want, say, food on their tables.
    I am always happy to pay for a pattern. I appreciate the work that goes into not only creating a beautiful object, but also enabling others to make it, too.

    Reply to Beverly
  • Jennifer

    I saw the tweets and clicked through, and have to admit I was just dumbfounded. I can’t imagine what people like that are thinking. My husband came with me to Rhinebeck last fall, and he knows what it costs to knit, and what sort of investment I make with what I do as a knitter. He is also rather frugal, and I like to joke that he thinks he’s living in 1950 when he’s amazed at the cost of things (eg. a loaf of bread, a movie ticket, blue jeans). That said, his only comment about prices the entire day was “I can’t believe how inexpensive a pattern is! $5 seems awfully low.” I figure if he, a non-knitter, and somewhat delusional about prices, gets it, I’m not sure how someone like that poster could not.

    Reply to Jennifer
  • Pandorasslave

    I absolutely think that free patterns have a place in the world. But seriously? To say ALL patterns should be free is the most asinine thing I have heard! How are people supposed to survive off of free?
    Assertions like that make me realize that they are saying it because they don’t want to spend their hard earned cash, but are completely blind that others in the world have to make money *somehow*, and that pattern designing is one of those things that qualifies as “Hard Earned”
    My sympathies for the stupid getting to you. Remember, there are a thousand other voices that are trying to drown the stupidity out.

    Reply to Pandorasslave
  • Roz

    It’s not just in the knitting world that some people think creative work should be free. It’s in journalism (where I hang my hat), it’s in government work, and it’s in all the fields that support our way of life here in the US — farming, public works, government operations.
    Of course, people also bitch about the lawyers, the doctors, the corporate titans who make tons of money — and how they don’t deserve it.
    My conclusion: People are stupid and think no one should be able to profit from hard work — no matter what kind of work it is. Some capitalist country we live in…

  • Gayle Pritchard

    What a great airing of the issues. I have run across this same attitude over the years, but you have to know that people who respond this way have not walked in your / our shoes, and don’t know what they are talking about. On the other hand, as an artist I am “donated” out, and tired of being asked for free donations of artwork for someone’s cause, and often from gallery owners who should know better. My husband is a performing musician, and is also often asked to perform for free. What is needed is for professionals in our fields to continue to advocate for adequate arts education in the schools, among other things. As long as creative people are considered “others”, the public will not understand that we are trying to make a living here!

    Reply to Gayle Pritchard

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