Off the Horns of a Dilemma

or Why I am NOT taking part in the GAL or Black Friday Sales.

I live in the UK. We have Harvest Festivals in September or October; we do not have Thanksgiving. And therefore we do not have Black Friday.

Until last year.

For the first time last year some places over here, big and small, had Black Friday deals. This year it is even worse, with many catching on to a ‘sales opportunity’.

At the same time, over on Ravelry, there is the GAL – the Gift-Along. Designers are cutting prices by 25% and pushing other people’s patterns all over social media. It only started a few days ago, and I am bored with it already! It is a huge amount of effort, and while it obviously works for some people, it isn’t for me.

I like a bargain as much as the next person, but not at the expense of other people. Maybe the huge stores can afford the drop in profits, but indies can’t.

In the knitting and crochet world, there is more and more pressure to have lots of free patterns. It gives people a chance to see what your patterns are like, ‘they’ say; you will sell more, they say. But it is my experience that things do not work that way.

There are folk who buy patterns, and folk who will only consider free patterns. Very occasionally someone who downloads a free pattern will come back and buy patterns, but the vast majority do not. The two ‘markets’ are different, and as I like to heat my house, I sell my patterns.

There seem to be more an more excuses for having a %off sale. New patterns, old patterns, holiday time (which, incidentally, over here come in July and August), festivals and anything else you can think of. The trouble is, once you start doing this, many folk wait until you have a sale before buying – I know that I wait to get things from companies which do this!

I have 3 main objections to such promotions:

a) As an indi, I do not get a salary from anyone. If I want to eat and run my car I need to get money for my work. Yes, I enjoy my work, but I need to keep the money coming in. The people who buy promotions tend not to come back again at a later date.

b) The people I want to benefit from any sales or specials are those who buy my patterns and books year in, year out. The ones who have loyally followed me and bought my patterns for years (and years and years in some cases!). I am very grateful for their support and like to give them something back.

c) Patterns take a lot of time, effort and money to get out there. If I don’t value my work, and expect to get paid for it, why should anyone else value my work?

Will I loose out on sales if I don’t take part? I don’t know – my Ravelry takings did not drop last year. But if they do, so be it. I will continue to believe in my work, and will continue to give a Thank You to my loyal customers.

So, for all my very-valued long-term customers and friends, here is a piccy of Scottie.  Totally irrelevant, but I love his laid back style.  Taken on one of the beaches on North Ronaldsay a month before he died.

PhotoELF Edits:
2015:09:25 --- Save - Overwrite --- resize


29 thoughts on “Off the Horns of a Dilemma

  1. Well said, I agree with you and I have both received a pattern of your with yarn l bought in Kirkwall while on holiday and since then purchased from you on line. Thank you.

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Oh for heaven sake. The “Black” in Black Friday should have been a giveaway. Does it sound like a good time? Please, please don’t copy us. We’re hostages to giant corporations over here. You’re perfectly right to refuse to sell on any terms but your own. It’s not a volume business. Forced reductions in price is an immediate problem for producers, but it’s a long term problem for the rest of us if you stop writing patterns because it’s just not worth your while.

  3. I do understand your dilemma. Unfortunately, I am presently unemployed and have to rely on free patterns for now. I have seen some really nice patterns via Ravelry and other places that I have bookmarked for possible later purchases. I envy you being in Great Britain; I believe your wools over there are less expensive than some of the States’ acrylics. Best wishes for a safe and Merry Christmas.

  4. I totally agree with you. I follow my favorite designers fairly closely. I am always happy to take the opportunity to buy several patterns and get a small discount, or some of them give a discount on a new pattern for a few days when it first comes out. So I get a little treat once in a while.

    You should get paid for your work. It takes your time, skill and knowledge to write a good pattern. It annoys me when people online seem to expect patterns to be free. It’s one thing to have a tight budget, but entirely another to expect other people to spend their time and energy and give it away.

    Coincidentally this is an ongoing discussion for musicians as well. Here in the states, venues expect bands to play for nearly free as well as rake in the crowds on a regular basis. No one wants to pay for live music. Try telling the landlord that you’ll give them some of your ‘exposure’ from your gig instead of rent.

    Love your pics!!

  5. I am in total agreement with you Liz.
    Black Friday started out to be a huge sale day with the merchants hoping to come out of the red ink, show only black ink on the books for the year. I don’t think this is going very well anymore as the sales are starting earlier and earlier each year. If I have occasion to go to the store for something, I notice that the there aren’t near the people shopping that there were years back. Reports are more often that sales were down.
    That is a wonderful picture of Scottie. I adore it.

  6. I agree with you too! In the US, Black Friday now creates horrific stories of shoppers getting into fights/being trampled on to buy “bargains” when the stores open at midnight (and the poor store employees have to leave their families right after lunchtime on Thanksgiving Day to prepare the store for the onslaught). Thanksgiving, a wonderful family holiday in the US, is now being crushed by this retail madness.

    As for the people who only want free patterns – I practiced law before I retired. Even though I worked for a company, friends would ask me legal questions and want me to provide legal advice for free. I used to fob them off by saying “you get what you pay for”. Similarly, some folks want me to knit items for them – but they slink away when I tell them how much the yarn will cost, how many hours it will take me, and that my time is worth more to me than minimum wage. (Honestly, these confused people think I will knit the stuff for free!)(or use acrylic – UGH)

    Learning how to design knitting patterns, designing knitting patterns, choosing the right stitch and the right yarn are all valuable skills and they deserve value. Just as your dear, late Scottie deserves a forever place in your heart.

  7. I recently placed my first order with Colourmart, and took the opportunity to purchase a half-dozen of your lovely patterns. The prices were reasonable, and I was pleased to support your work!

    I am in Canada, and our Thanksgiving is earlier, than than in the US – to coincide with harvest. This year, a number of our local retailers “held off” on Christmas decorating until after Remembrance Day, which seemed appropriate!

    And, my Flotta calendar arrived last week – very speedy delivery!

    Thanks so much, Liz! Love to see photos of your Scotties!

  8. Dear Liz.

    let it be “Black Friday” or “Halloween”, these american bad habits do kill cultural traditions as well

    I live in a very remote part of north eastern Germany, Pomerania, and the people here do not know the original holidays anymore, there is a holiday (All Saints Day) and they believe they must not go to school because of Halloween…

    we have similar traditions like Halloween (f.e. “Rummelpott”) but that is forgotten, instead we are overflooded with Halloween Rubbish

    so it is a cultural problem as well

  9. Nothing, nothing is as lovely as a beautiful gift made by hand…and that is NOT the Black Friday concept, thank goodness. So glad your focus, while making a living at what you love and are gifted to do, is on creating so that others can create, as well!

  10. Completely agree. Well said. I believe in supporting the designers who work hard to produce quality patterns. I am fortunate, when my budget allows, to be able to purchase patterns when I find one I like. And when my budget is tight, I keep a wish list. Black Friday gives me the shivers and i refuse to shop just because.

  11. Black Friday is the US curse that just keeps on spreading. It has become Black Friday WEEK & infected parts of Canada. I have chosen to Opt Out & refuse to set foot in a Mall from November to February. Keep up the good work Liz, you know who your fans are.

  12. I could not have written nor said any on this topic, better than you have! bless you – and I AM a long-time, admirer, “appreciate” of your generously shared knowledge and interests, and a delighted knitter of your lovely patterns!

  13. Black Friday has become Black Week even in Canada – you can hear the Retail desperation even in Europe, I’m sure. I ignore the whole thing, myself. I seldom go to an indoor mall & make sure I don’t darken the door from November to February now!! I love the little shop in the little strip mall, the butcher, the baker, the fish & chip shop. I don’t care if I pay more, I know who produces the things I buy & their children who ring in my purchases. I shop with them because I enjoy the social experience.
    I love free things just like the next guy but I get most of mine from Knitty, who’s been introducing us to Designers for many years now. ‘Free’ should be an introduction, to a new Designer, a new Line, a new Idea, not a Lifestyle.

  14. You are absolutely right Liz. I didn’t even know that this GAL thing was related to Thanksgiving, which of course we don’t celebrate in UK or in Australia where I am now living. Thanks for explaining.
    So nice to see Scottie again, such a great wee personality.

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