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Grow your design business by letting go of control over your patterns | Hooked by Kati

Let the Pattern Go!

And Watch Your Design Business Grow!

Some designers want to prevent people from selling finished products made from their patterns. After all, the pattern belongs to them, so why not the product? Why should someone else benefit from their pattern? I’m telling you right now that if you want to be a successful designer, the first thing you need to do is let the pattern go.

Letting go of your need for control allows you to make the shift from Maker to Designer. By holding on too tightly to your patterns, you are holding back the success and earning potential of your design career.

The Hard Reality

Before we get any further, I want you to know that you have no legal claim to the finished product made by a pattern you wrote. You can put “For personal use only” all over a pattern, but in the end, that does not constitute a binding contract and will not hold up in court.

The art belongs to the artist. That includes your art (your pattern) and the crocheter’s art (the finished product).

Copyright law protects you from someone copying your pattern word-for-word. But you have no right to say what happens to that finished product made by another person using your pattern.

If you are in a place of contention on this, please consider the following:

You Make The Paintbrush

A crochet pattern is not the same thing as a crocheted item, just like a paintbrush is not the same thing as a painting.

One is a tool used to make art, and the other is the art itself.

If your pattern is a paintbrush, you can’t dictate what happens to the paintings it creates. You can revel in the paintings, encourage the painters, and be proud that you had a hand in their artistry. But it would be ludicrous to try to control or take credit for the painting.   

You have to realize that there is a correlation between crochet goods and crochet tools but that, as a designer, you have moved from one to the other.

Fear of Losing Control

This is really quite interesting because I was originally prepared to title this section “Fear of Losing Ownership,” but I didn’t like that last word, so I hit the Thesaurus. Do you know what the first synonym was for “ownership?” Control.


It seems so appropriate that we want to claim ownership of something beautiful, especially when we have a hand in its creation. But that need to “own” or “claim” the finished product is just another emotional grasp at control.

When you first see something made by your pattern sitting on a craft fair table, the familiarity is enough to make you feel it somehow belongs to you. I get that.

What I’m asking you to do is to push that aside. Take a deep breath, and first remember that you did not make that item. Your hands did not make those stitches.

After acknowledging this, you can look at that item and see a product of your business.

The tool you created is not only benefiting you, but it is helping someone else in their craft business, and it was used to create something beautiful, which will then bring joy to whoever purchases it.

You have moved from the end of the creation process to the beginning.

You started that cascade of creativity, and someone else ended it — and that’s okay! It’s even good!

Hoarding Sales is Counterproductive

A particular artist, let’s call her “Sue,” recently had a crocheted Etsy product go viral. I mean, 1,000 orders in a day, viral. Sue had tons of people requesting the pattern for her product, but she refused to sell the pattern. She wanted to be the only person who sold that item.

Sue worked her fingers to the bone, filling orders but ended up canceling many of them because she couldn’t keep up. Her Etsy rating tanked because so many people were angry about their orders being canceled.

The irony is that several other people wrote a pattern to make a similar product because Sue’s product was so popular. They sold a ton of patterns, and Etsy is now flooded with other people who sell a similar product to Sue’s, and quite successfully, I might add.

Sue had the potential to have a great product AND a viral pattern, but the competition overtook her while she was trying to hoard orders. And the pattern she was protecting ended up getting out anyway, all after she had already puttered out from gripping it too tightly.

Make More Money When People Sell Your Designs

There are only so many hours in a day. If you have the next viral pattern, why limit your income potential by selling ONLY what your fingers can crank out? Shift from Make to Designer and make more money instead!

It goes like this:

  • You write a pattern. You sell it for $5.00 to Artist A.
  • Artist A makes the item, taking four hours to do so, then sells it for $30.00.
  • While they are making said pattern, you sell five more patterns, and you write a second pattern (since selling patterns didn’t cost you any more time).
  • You now have $30.00 and a second pattern, which is also for sale.
  • Artist A takes another four hours to make a second item with the same pattern, selling it again for $30.00.
  • You sell another five copies of the first pattern and five copies of the second and have used that time to write a third pattern.
  • You now have $80.00 and three patterns that are for sale.

Can you see where I’m going here?

And the double bonus of it all is that while Artist A is selling the finished item, they have used proper etiquette while tagging the product. They credited the designer, and people are now visiting your Etsy shop or website because they found your name on Artist A’s product tags!

This is where your business shifts from Maker to Crochet Designer.

Can you see now why that “For Personal Use Only” blurb is a little silly? You gain nothing by putting it there. But you can gain a whole new career by shifting from Maker to Designer.

In fact, you will start to look at it as free advertising and proof that your patterns produce good results!

True Story: I have a customer who sells my Dragonlings at her author booth at comic cons around the state. She gives out my Etsy shop address when people ask for the pattern, and I see an actual uptick in views and sales on weekends. She is an icon. And the sales of her dragons help out her business as well. It’s a win-win! Shout out to Julie Wetzel!

Let the Pattern Go

After several years of designing, I really, really, honestly, and truly LOVE to see items made by my patterns, whether they are going to be gifts or whether they are covering a table at a craft fair.

There is nothing quite as awesome as seeing a familiar amigurumi looking up at me. I didn’t make him, but I know his little face. I’m so proud of what they all have become!

Then I get to jump up and down, congratulate the artist, and shout to the world, “Look! Do you see this beautiful art? Come support this magnificent artist! Oh, and by the way…”

“I made their paintbrush.”

Yarn on,


Like this idea? Want to continue the discussion with others? Comment below, or share this post with your friends!

Do you want your pattern sales to skyrocket? Then let the pattern go!
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  1. Wonderful article! I’m always sad to run across that ‘restriction’ – I can’t, with good conscience, buy or download patterns like that to use. I’m mostly homebound these days, so I spend a LOT of time w/ my hobbies, and I make a lot of little critters as they’re my favorite thing to crochet! I’m always on the look-out for cute patterns, and over the years, I’ve amassed an enormous collection of patterns, probably 50/50 between free patterns & paid patterns.

    While I know that there is no true legal standing for someone to enforce “personal use only”, I will abide by their wishes, just out of courtesy. BUT – since I have very very few people in my life now to gift toys to, most of my ami’s end up being put out for sale eventually

    So – the moment I see the “for personal use only” restriction, I move on & that designer has just lost a sale (or visits to their site or video channel or ???) I’m not deliberately trying to hurt the designer, not at all! It’s their pattern to handle in any way they want to & I’ll respect their wishes, regardless. But for my personal situation, I need to have the option of trying to sell my finished ami’s, and regardless of any legality or lack thereof, I’d feel really crappy going against what the pattern designer requested, so… I simply bypass designers who put those restrictions on their patterns. I’ve missed out on buying some incredible patterns due to this – but sooner or later, I can usually find another pattern just as nice that doesn’t attempt to restrict the finished product.

    On the other side of the coin, I think it is very important & the only decent courteous thing to do, for makers to credit the designers when they list items for sale!! It always makes me a little sad when I see ami’s for sale, that were obviously made from well-known designers’ patterns & the seller couldn’t be bothered to post a line giving the designer the well-deserved credit for the pattern. (I know you can’t always tell, but some designers have distinctive patterns or an overall style that is so distinctive, so sometimes you can recognize their patterns if you are rather familiar with their work already)

  2. I love your attitude – seeing the win-win is so positive. I’m a maker without the creativity to be a true designer – the idea of making things for sale and crediting the designer is so the right way to go!!

    1. Thanks! This crafty world is big enough for all of us! We should support each other. 🙂 Thank you for your comment!

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