Free Patterns: Changes on the horizon

By Megan Goodacre

Hey, happy February! I haven't been able to blog as much lately; I've been working on graphic design, which is my bread and butter. If you're curious about this other hat that I wear, you can check out samples of my work in my Behance portfolio!


Fitzgerald Scarf
Montgomery Scarf
Knitted Bookmarks
opulinfinityscarf3New Bittersweet Cowl

Today's going to be a rant
Yeah, I know, this is a long bitch-post. It's 80% rant, 19% information, 1% bad jokes. If you just want the punch line (and if you have any free patterns in your Tricksy Knitter library, this post has important information for you) you can skip to the end.

The back story
In November 2013, Charles and I updated the Tricksy Knitter website. We launched a totally updated chart maker and an improved checkout system (thanks to WooCommerce). We nipped and tucked and tested. There were many long nights of work, but it was worth it.

One of the major changes was to the free pattern delivery system. All of the patterns (whether paid or not) were made available through the pattern store.

Personally, I prefer this system. It puts all of your patterns in your library, meaning you can access them without having to hunt around. This is nice if you can't remember if the Canaletto Cowl is called the Cancan, the Canelloni or the Amaretto. You just go to your library and there it is. It also means that I don't have to run two different delivery systems (one for free patterns and one for paid).

The checkout asks for standard information: email, name, address. Standard stuff. We don't ask for your family income, your age, weight, first pet's name. Just the conventional identification material that is used in online sales. I don't ask for or store credit card numbers, I never add anyone to the mailing list unless they ask me to, and I certainly don't share anyone's information with anyone else.

Most people responded by enjoying the site: making free charts, buying patterns and notebooks, and downloading thousands and thousands of free patterns. And this is great, because it helps guide my future designs and makes me feel loved.

But why have a checkout for free patterns?
Well, first, let's think about the point of free patterns. It's nice to share, yes. But I'd also like to build some street cred, and giving away patterns shows my willingness to put work into my relationship with knitters. I want people to stay and cuddle, not just pop by for a quickie. If I'm going to build my knitting empire, I need people to remember the Tricksy Knitter name.

Secondly, it's really helpful if user profiles contain accurate province information for GST/HST. PayPal does not always provide enough information. I have Canadian sales go through Ravelry without province info and technically (according to the CRA), if I don't know which province someone is buying from, I have to pay the maximum HST on my sales (which is Nova Scotia's at 15%) whether I collected it or not. Which is a drag, right? (Yes, yes, I know, I don't need it for free patterns. But many people download free and paid patterns, and I need their info to be accurate.)

Finally (and frankly) I don't see why there shouldn't be a formal exchange when a business gives something away. If a bakery has a promotion, where they give away, let's say, a dozen cupcakes, that's pretty awesome. If they ask that people come into their store to pick up the free cupcakes, and fill out a form or a survey, that wouldn't faze me at all. I think it's reasonable for a business to set the terms of the exchange when they're giving away something that they put a lot of work and money into developing. A checkout for a free pattern forces both sides of the exchange to take it a little more seriously. On my part, I'm required to make an attractive, reliable, downloadable product. On the knitter's part, he or she is acknowledging this by taking the time to create a user profile so they can log in to the site and retrieve their patterns.

(Pauses to take a deep breath)

Yes, there's a however. The online world is a weird place, and we all worry (in varying degrees) about our privacy. And hey, I worry about it too.

There are some who would strongly prefer to download free patterns without going through a checkout that asks for their email and name. And some of those people are not at all shy about telling me exactly how they feel about it or where they think I should stick the checkout page. I will admit, even though there are few of them, I do not enjoy these complaints. Water off a duck's back is all very well, but eventually you're just a really wet duck.

For every one complaint, I receive dozens of thank-yous. But unfortunately, squeaky wheels take more time to fix than working ones.

Skip to the end
So, as I find time, I'm converting the free patterns into web posts. This will remove them from the checkout process. So far, I've done the Canaletto Cowl, New Bittersweet Cowl, Washcloth Quartet and Leafy Washcloth.

As I convert them, these patterns will no longer be available in your Available Downloads section when you log in. You can find them by going to How to knit> Free patterns. Or by finding them in Store> Free Knitting Patterns and clicking Get the pattern!