Small Biz Rant: Do Crocheters Support Their Own Craft?

Small_Biz_Rant_Support“Crochet books don’t sell as well as knitting books.”

“Crocheters don’t spend as much money as knitters.”

“Crocheters don’t spend as much money on yarn.”

“Crocheters don’t want to spend money, period.”

Do you find any of these statements to be true, as a crocheter?

When I first started to get more into crocheting in 2005, I would hear things like, “Knitters are snobby toward crocheters,” or that local yarn shops cater to knitters more than crocheters (i.e. not carrying as many crochet hooks or crochet books). What at first seems like elitism or snobbery becomes more interesting when you talk to a store-owner about it. “In general, crocheting a scarf takes up more yarn than knitting a scarf, and the yarn-expense turns off crocheters from spending money on more high-end yarn.”

I have to remove myself from this equation because I LOVE YARN. I love to look at yarn and touch yarn and buy yarn and hoard yarn (obviously, if you have seen my yarn wall). There is some yarn that I consider a prize, or art, and I just like to possess it and look at it and be happy that I own it (creepy?). But I know not everyone is like that. A lot of people are more practical, and if they want to make a blanket for a newborn baby that a baby will probably barf all over, chew up, and get poop on, they don’t want it to cost $100+ in yarn only. I get that completely. As a crocheter who sells her crochet goods, I do have to try to keep the cost of my supplies down since the cost/time of labor is so high, and usually that means you can’t crochet with the fancy stuff.

In my journey to publish my second crochet book, my agent and I encountered a lot of the statements that I started this blog entry with: crocheters don’t spend money, i.e. nobody wants to buy your crochet book. Or, if a publisher is looking for crochet books, they want stuff that is less weird than my stuff, like “25 striped hats for your kids,” or “25 kinda okay scarves for the average 25 – 45 year old lady,” etc. Because, this is what people buy, and this is what makes money for publishers. I totally get it. Even though my audience had grown substantially since selling my first book, my numbers were not enough to sway many of the publishers we approached. It was an extreme uphill battle that I never blogged about.

Now, I’m really only talking about big/traditional publishing, and they are businesses, and they have a bottom line, and they want to make money, and they can’t really be bothered with much else, like, championing the unique or the underdog. That ain’t their problem.

So we have places like Etsy, or Ravelry, or Craftsy, to sell our patterns or e-books or self-pubbed books, and the books can be as weird and wacky as we want them to be. Having come from a career in traditional book publishing, I have to admit, I do think there is more cache’ to getting your book published by, say, Random House, than, say, yourself. There’s a certain filter for quality that is assumed with agents and traditional publishing that you don’t really get with self-publishing. However, the technology and accessibility is there for self-publishing, and the internet is at our disposal as far as marketing and outreach. It’s just, different. And it’s a decision I’m thinking about making in the future. But I’m not sure yet. The other assumed upshot of traditional publishing is that they already have some marketing machines in motion that could benefit you, and it can be easier to get into bookstores (cuz some still exist, right?), but if you are a marketing maven, you might not need them at all.

Another part of this conversation is when people tell me, “I’m in this crochet group on Facebook, and everyone in it says that they refuse to pay for any pattern, because they can always find an equivalent for free somewhere.” Okay, I like free stuff, too, but there is something about this philosophy that really bothers me as an artist/designer. Does that mean that there is no perceived value to my experience, creativity, and time, even amongst my own peers? How can we complain that people don’t want to pay for the cost of handmade, when we ourselves don’t want to pay $5 or less for a pattern?

Also, please be aware, that re-posting patterns in these groups or in forums, without permission, whether paid-for or free, is a violation of copyright, and is totally not cool, unless expressly indicated by the writer of that pattern.

My small biz rants don’t usually have a neat conclusion or a true thesis. They are just rants, after all. I guess my point is: if you have some spare cash and you love crocheting, buy crochet books. Buy patterns. If you want more cool crochet books, you should support the people who create them for you. I know there are TOOOOONS of cool free patterns that can keep a person busy until the end of time, but if you like the feel of a book in your hand, or you like the idea of your favorite crafters writing books and patterns for you, try to support them as much as you can. I realize that not everyone can afford to do so, and I’m not trying to be classist about it, but I also feel that our artists have worth at the end of the day, and we should support them if we can and if we love them. I don’t like to rant about money, and at the heart of it, this is not really a rant about money. It’s really about support for a craft that sometimes doesn’t seem as glamorous as the rest. Sometimes it has a bad rap for being out-dated, or ugly, or not having enough style. But you and I know that this doesn’t have to be true.

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29 Responses to Small Biz Rant: Do Crocheters Support Their Own Craft?

  1. I knit and crochet…and it is true that crochet uses more yarn…so if I have some more expensive yarn…I might choose to knit something instead. BUT in the last year I have really gotten more into crochet and love it because, though, it takes more yarn…it takes less TIME to make something. I download free patterns, but I also buy lots of books because the books contain a lot more information and pictures that I can go back to again and again. I have bought both of your books for my kindle and love making the patterns because they are so much fun…different…and bring joy into my life. The patterns also inspire my own patterns. You can count on me to continue to support you because I love your patterns. I even bought a British crochet magazine because it had your pattern for a cupcake pencil cosy. So keep on keeping on…I’m with you!!!!

  2. Faith says:

    I’ve been crocheting for decades. I bought patterns, used parts of patterns for some stuff, and started figuring out how to make some stuff without patterns. In the early 2000’s, I started designing some of my own patterns. I created designs that were different than what was available at the time, and more fun. Years later, I happened upon your stuff. Even though some of your designs are similar to some of mine, I have bought both of your books.

    I still create my own stuff, but I also buy patterns of stuff I like. I have a large crochet library, both physically and digitally, and I continue to buy patterns. I do have a large assortment of yarn. I choose durable, washable acrylic for a lot of things, but I also use other fibers, depending on the project. I have spent over $30 to make one hat, because it wouldn’t be the same in acrylic yarn. I have an extensive hook collection, too.

    I do rescue homeless books, yarn, and hooks from yard sales and thrift stores, but I buy more new items than used. I keep a large supply so my children can “shop” in my stash. I’ve discovered that they were afraid to use more expensive supplies when still learning, because they were afraid they would ruin them. They have used more expensive fibers since then.

    I try to support the crochet community as much as possible, and will continue to do so. I also support the knit community, but currently spend more on crochet.

  3. cookielu says:

    I too knit and crochet. And it has been my experience that LYS cater more to knitters. And yes, about the expensive yarns. Directly because crochet uses more yarn I tend to crochet with less expensive acrylic yarns and save the high priced hand died yarns for my knitting. I love a good book in my hands. I love perusing a pattern book! I may never crochet one thing from one of my books, but I love having them in my needlework library. Most Of my books are pattern books, because, IMHO, how many how-to books does a person need!? I also love buying crochet, and knit, magazines – there are four I mist have every month and others I will buy only if a pattern suits my fancy. I have encountered ‘snobbery’, if you will, at LYSs, but I do not think it is really people being snobs! Yarn stores are a social spot, and anytime you are trying to get to know new people you encounter a bit of difficulty becoming a part of ‘the group’. I do not take this personly and accept it as a
    part of how human beings are – we simply and naturally form groups and can be wary of newcomers. I find that through persistence you can break into aNy group and discover how warm and caring everyone really is. In my experinece this takes three times hanging out with the group to totally fit in! I have
    my favorite yarn store hangouts, and I also participate in Meetup.com groups and no matter how welcoming everybody is it just takes some persistency to become a part of the group. I am VERY supportive of artists and do not share paid-for patterns. I do share free ones, but I make sure that designer’s credits are given. Okay, I’ve go e on too long! I just want to urge people who think they are encountering ‘snobbery’ or exclusion to be persistent – no one is really being a butthead, so give them some time as they are giving you some time too!!

    • TwinkieChan says:

      Yeah, I came into the craft just hearing about potential snobbery. I don’t think I’ve really experienced it, at least in person, but I do think a lot of LYS cater to knitters, but I suppose that is more of a business decision and less a snobby one.

  4. Penny says:

    Feel free to rant anytime. It’s good for us all. The snobbery I think is going by way of the past as more and more people are learning to cross over and do both crochet and knit. I have a dear friend who made me a shawl for my birthday and he incorporated crochet in the midst of knitting it. Quite fabulous! But I do see a trend that, as stitchers learn to handle both crafts, albeit maybe not in the same project, the beauty offered by each is being recognized by all. As far as the publications, I do hope they keep coming forever! I have stacks and shelves and piles upon piles of books and magazines and pamphlets and I am always on the hunt for more. I love the pictures and ideas and patterns. While for many years I followed patterns step by step, I also like the thought that patterns are created for basis of guiding and teaching, training and leading down the path while getting the creative juices flowing. My projects will resemble the magnificent original creations of the artists, but I frequently dance to my own little diddy and after at least a few tries and re-tries I too will have a grand product. However, although I can veer off the beaten path of the pattern and add my own touches, I lack the imagination gene to come up with the whole original idea in the first place. So please, please, I need the artists’ creations to get me jump started! And I thank you one and all for that! (P.S. Crocheted Abode A La Mode has provided me with my nephews’ Christmas presents for 2017. And I thank you for that as well!)

    • TwinkieChan says:

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment!! WHen I went to Vogue Knitting Live last year, I was surprised and delighted by how so many of the ladies both knit and crochet. I always thought it was pretty rare. I know how to knit, but I’m really bad and slow at it!

  5. Denise says:

    I think crocheters are stuck in and hurt by a cycle. For so long, there wasn’t much offered that was very creative or different. And there was the stigma attached to crocheting. People got used to only having access to meh stuff and didn’t speak out to say they wanted more because they thought they’d get a not-so-nice response.

    Now that there’s a wider variety of patterns and some really innovative stuff out there, it’s like crocheters are either scared to try something new or so stuck in the belief that everything is free that they won’t take a chance on buying something. There was a time when most of the crochet patterns–or so it seems to me–came from the yarn companies and were free. Then people started designing and offering them for free because they were generous, or didn’t think anyone would pay, or didn’t realize they deserve compensation for their work.

    So maybe crochet books aren’t selling as well as they could. So publishers won’t take a chance on anything too different. And we get more books that exemplify the things that cause knitters to look down at crochet.

    I purchase the craft books for my library and it makes me sad to see all the books of knitting patterns with pretty, wearable, desirable projects and so few crochet books at all. We don’t need another book of granny squares or baby shoes. Oh, two more books on the basics of crochet? Certainly those will attract people. Let’s not try to introduce new techniques or anything. (Yarn stores are guilty of this too–they decide to take a chance and offer Crochet 101 and when people ask for something more advanced they’re told that it depends on how Crochet 101 goes but no one signs up for that because the interested crocheters already know how to crochet and aren’t going to drop $50 or more to support the chance of getting the classes they really want and those classes never happen.)

    Unfortunately, I know a lot of crocheters who fall into the stereotype. Older, only interested in pretty mundane patterns and cheap yarn, so used to getting things for free that they don’t want to pay. But I know other crocheters (and am one) who are starving for new things and willing to pay. But I think as a group we need to step up and expect better, learn to support the people who are making cool things, and spread the love.

    • TwinkieChan says:

      “But I think as a group we need to step up and expect better, learn to support the people who are making cool things, and spread the love.” Yes, totally agree!!!

      Off-topic: I hate how some big yarn brands discontinue pastel/baby colors in certain lines. We want our pastels! AHHHH.

  6. Katie S. says:

    This is so interesting on so many levels. I’ve been following your blog for a couple of years and because of your blog, I wanted to learn to crochet. I went to a class at Michael’s, didn’t really learn anything and fell out of it. My Mom kept telling me she’d teach me and never did.

    We went and took a knitting class because I had actually knit before and just needed a refresher. My teacher was older (I’d wager to say in her late 50’s-early 60’s) and VERY MUCH the elitist you were talking about. At least once a class she would make a dig about crocheting (amongst other things), and I just never understood it. To my inexperienced eyes and mind, I think there is benefit to both and I would never think that one is “better” than the other. It’s all just a matter of preference.

    I am definitely going to make an effort to put some money toward the small business crafters this year. Now that I know a little more about what I’m doing, I feel so much more confident in buying patterns and getting my money’s worth and not just letting it sit around unused. I’ve been eyeing up so many indie yarn people on Etsy that I’m ready to just throw money at lol Plus, once I do learn how to crochet, I want to buy pretty much all of those adorable crocheting kits with the patterns for Star Wars and Winnie The Pooh. That’s the thing about crochet I definitely want to learn. Those little guys are AODRABLE!

    • TwinkieChan says:

      I’m interested in how the Michaels crochet class was not helpful, because I’m to be teaching beginners crochet for the first time in April, and I want to do it well!!!

      • Katie S. says:

        From my personal experience, the teacher I had was WAY more focused on the older women in the class lol I was the youngest one there by far and she spent more time with them. I was just sitting there trying to figure out how to start a new row once I did my first chain and couldn’t get her attention. I’m sure it’s hard to divide your attention equally since everyone learns at a different rate, but making sure everyone is at least getting the basics down would be good! Good luck with teaching!! I’m sure it isn’t easy!

  7. Samantha says:

    I knit and crochet. I like free patterns, but I also buy books (both knit and crochet) because they’re pretty to look through and easier to work from versus digital patterns. I also have an extensive collection of both knit and crochet print and digital magazines. I have almost all of the crochet kits with little books-because they’re fun and cute. And I love, love, love yarn. I use both expensive yarn and the cheap stuff. It just depends on what I feel like making.

    I don’t have any LYS’s where I live. There is 1 sew and quilt shop that also carries yarn, but I only went in once because I didn’t really like the yarn they had at the time. They did have a pretty rowdy knitting circle though.

    • TwinkieChan says:

      I visited a shop in LA with a wonderful knitting community, but I’m not sure if San Francisco knitters/crocheters gather in the same way.

  8. wooly brain says:

    I love crochet books, magazines and yarn (lots of yarn). Sometime its difficult to find yarn for crochet projects, when I go into yarn stores they don’t have any colours I like. I have come across many not very nice knitters but I’m learning to recover from their comments. I knit and crochet, I Love making amigurumi and I have bought books and patterns and also made my own creations. I crochet and knit and like both. I’ve bought expensive yarn to ogle over and sometimes I use it. I’ve got a big yarn stash and envy your yarn wall (all the beautiful colours) Your creativity makes me feel happy, inspired and we need more talented people like you. I love both your books <3 I've made quite a few things from them. I really love your unique style and humour, Lets make the world more cute and colourful and less beige. : )

  9. Anastasiya says:

    I sometimes surf through the patterns, look at the objects I like and think, “I can design it for free”. But then, “Hey, all work should be paid for” and “If you buy this pattern, one crocheter out there will be a bit more appreciated”. So, I usually go and buy it.

    The problem with books is usually that the content is not homogenious. I once bought 2 translated books that contained exactly those 25 hat patterns and bag patterns. This was the biggest disappointment in my life. There was 1 pattern for the bag that I liked and 1 pattern for the hat. As I’m not a tension square girl, the hat didn’t turn out as planned. Eventually, I donated both of them to a local library.

    And I love yarn. The locally manufactured yarns are reasonably priced and contain natural fibers, so, I usually buy them. But I really want to buy something sophisticated, like Malabrigo or Madeline Tosh, for a sweater or a dress, but the price will be cosmic…

  10. Okay, I don’t buy a lot of patterns, BUT I DO buy patterns and crochet books if it interests me. For example, Twinkie, you are my favourite crochet artist, I love your patterns and your designs. They are so unique and so cute. I have purchased both of your books and I want to buy some of your stand-alone patterns too.

    However, I find because of the lack of VARIETY and the lack of patterns that interest me specifically, I don’t buy many patterns and end up finding them online for free.

    I don’t buy “expensive” yarn not because it’s expensive – it’s because I don’t use wool for crochet 99% of the time because I tend to cater to vegan markets when I’m crocheting. I prefer cotton, and my local yarn shop only carries the UGLIEST colours of cotton I have EVER seen.

    The local yarn shop, too, the owner used to be VERY snobbish to me when I would come in and ask about yarn or ask if they sold crochet hooks. She would tell me rudely “no, we don’t carry crochet items.” And just from the WAY she spoke to me made me 100% uninterested in supporting her shop.

    I ended up going back one day because I needed stitch markers and the busses weren’t running to where I usually pick things up. I went in and found her attitude COMPLETELY changed. She was nice, she carried a few sizes of crochet hook, she was advertising crochet classes, and she was displaying peoples crochet work for sale. I now go there to support her whenever I can.

    To me it’s all about attitude. I HATE knitting, it makes me want to shoot myself in the foot, but I don’t hate knitters! I hate how I’m often shrugged off and excluded by knitters and it’s a weird rift and drama in the craft community. Like what gives? Yarn wars????

    • ALSO I buy crochet magazines left and right! I had a huge pity party when crochet today went out of print, because I bought it religiously every month. I now buy simply crochet on ipad because you showed you had an article in it, and turns out I love the magazine so I buy it a lot.

  11. Karen Brathwaite says:

    Thank you Ms. Twinkie for the comment you have pointed out and You’re right, because since I love to crochet the book that made me appreciate crochet more often is Crochet Abode A la Mode book which is a lot fun to crochet like Breakfast Dishcloths, Cheeseburger tissue box cozy, Birthday cake TP cozy, and more! I even gave one of your book to a co-worker of mine and she teaches crochet classes with the students. So, Ms. Twinkie, you still have my strong support every time by either have a new pattern , book, etc. Thank you again and May God bless you and your family.

  12. Maxine says:

    Most of the comments seem to be from experienced people who crochet. I would like to offer a beginner’s point of view.

    I get free patterns online because I don’t want to spend money only to find that I like only one or two designs. I pick patterns that I like, and, more important, that I can actually finish.

    Also, as I read the patterns, sometimes I find that a certain step or technique is not explained. I also don’t want to buy a book only to find a step that says “Do this” and then not explain how to do whatever “this” is. The Internet has helped me learn how to make a Magic Circle and how to crochet a dishcloth with straight instead of ragged edges.

    Would I buy your book if I had the money? YES, because I have noticed from your free patterns that you do explain how to do things. You include illustrations or photographs. I appreciate your work in laying out all of the steps. I actually finished crocheting the goldfish cracker from your pattern. You are an author I trust. You have rekindled my interest in crochet. Keep up the good work.

  13. I teach crochet at a LYS & I also design patterns. Not all LYS have someone that is comfortable with crochet, and I think that lack of knowledge leads to their not taking care of crocheters quite as well.

    Every single week I get the question ‘You can CROCHET THAT??’ – or read a comment about luxury yarn being ruined with crochet. We are still dealing with seventies orange chevron shorts, but I think we’re doing a good job reviving crochet and showing its modernity.

    Selfishly, it reassures me that you too are going through this. I wrote this article last year http://www.accrochet.com/2016/02/22/thoughts-about-independant-design/ and have seen some, but not much, improvement yet.

  14. Kathryn Vercillo says:

    I love when I see people who DO support their craft. One great example is Julie of ACCROchet who started her #bethecrochetchange idea in 2014. On the 10th of each month, she buys a pattern from a crochet designer to encourage that person to keep crafting. And she blogs about it so it always encourages others and spreads the word about that particular pattern. It’s a small action that can make a big difference.

    • TwinkieChan says:

      OH that is really super cool! I admit, I feel in the middle about a lot of things, because after years of selling crochet and also promoting other brands… I feel like my life has centered around getting people to buy things. I know there is sort of a line here between straight consumerism and supporting art, but I do also feel weird shouting BUYBUYBUY regardless of what it is.

    • Thank you Kathryn. Twinkie, while I understand your discomfort at the initiative, it’s more about making the designer feel valued, than consuming.

  15. Karen Pope says:

    Hi Twinkie. I ran across your website this morning and have enjoyed peeking at pages and articles. I must admit, your “rant” struck a chord with me because I am just starting an online biz. I have designed many things, but have yet to translate the design into writing or a diagram–that is in the works. I, too, buy patterns and have a large crochet library of patterns, books, leaflets, etc. As for spending money on more expensive yarn, I have in the past and will again if it fits my project. At any rate, I enjoyed your website and will keep an eye on it going forward.

  16. christina says:

    Okay first off hoarders anonymous for crocheters can also be held in my house. oops. I have an on going love affair with indie dyed yarn but I also still buy the cheap ‘crapy’ stuff from Michaels, to me its all about the project and what it needs to be the best that it can be. Whether that means surviving the abuse that my 3 boys can put it through or something soft and delicate to drape on my shoulders.
    I have to admit I was hesitant to buy patterns at first because I could generally get similar types things for free…..BUT I have to say generally speaking you get what you pay for. I now research on ravelry a pattern designer and if it looks like everyone who logs a project makes one that looks just like the designers sample and there were no major complaints I pick one pattern to try and then if I like them I go back for more. I have also started checking out books from my local public library, my goal this year is to make 2-4 patterns from each book and if I like the way the patterns are written I plan to buy the books and build my own library.
    As far as LYS goes, I think its that unfortunately knitting is just more popular and more modern currently, or so the world thinks. I also find that most of the owners knit and know little about crochet as they were never taught or never pursued it and therefore don’t think to cater to it. I have a LYS here that is trying to build her crochet library of references for customers but had little idea of where to go,I sat right down and gave her a list of names including yours Twinkie! I think while modern crochet is out there, unless you are actively searching it out most don’t know where to find it.
    I know social media wise I follow more knitters than I do crocheters, but again I think its simply because crochet hasn’t seen the resurgence that knitting has. YET. I fell in another 10 years crochet will be as big and as awesome as knitting is now, we are just behind on the times, our revolution came late.

  17. To be honest I don’t seem to buy patterns because after learning how to make basic shaped like spheres, cones and cylinders, I can make all the amigurumi I want, so after the first book I haven’t gotten any more. It’s kind of like I learned how to draw and people have cool ideas and I just look at them and can draw/crochet them. It’s not the same for me with knitting which I learned first, so I don’t know why crochet clicked with me like that, but it just did, so I haven’t really bought any patterns, sorry 🙁
    I do love your stuff and might buy a book for a friend if they express an interest in crochet.

  18. Cheri says:

    I like to split my time between crochet and knitting. I tend to use Acrylic for amigurumi and toys, and nicer/softer yarn for accessories – regardless of the craft. But my favorite thing to do is support the artists and writers I follow online. Not just fiber arts, but also people who have given so much valuable content, I like to buy their books whenever possible. For example: Twinkie Chan (obvs), but also Gretchen Rubin who has an amazing podcast “Happier”, and has written some fantastic books. I like to feel my purchase is a way of letting them know they are appreciated and that I hope they continue their awesome work!

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