Crochet Pattern Free! But What Does it MEAN?

This week has had good and bad. I released a pattern (Billy Thunder Tote) and it made it to number one on ravelry, which is pretty darn awesome. I was dancing around like I had just won the yarn lottery and got free yarn for a year.

Unfortunately, this had a damper put on it due to a copyright issue.

You may be thinking, ‘What has this to do with free patterns.’ A lot!

I decided to list this pattern for one month free. I did this to try and get interest in the pattern, and it certainly has worked. Did I mention it made number one on ravelry? (Yes I am blatantly bragging.)

To have a pattern get to number one is super fantastic as you never know what designs are going to gel with people. Ones you think will go well, may not and visa versa. So it is a real buzz when it happens.

Number one in whats hot now.

Then we get to the unfortunate side of things!

I discovered simply by accident that one of the Facebook Crochet Groups here in Australia had put my pattern up as a PDF in their group. It was made worse by the fact that an administrators of this group was the person who had put it up.

You may think, ‘what does it matter? Its free isn’t it’. And yes it was free at the time, but with a clear deadline for the end of this. The group in question has almost 7,000 members. So by putting up my pattern as a PDF in a file on their group, they were basically removing any future sales I may get from it. I was getting absolutely no advertising or credit from this as it was just my PDF, no write up, nothing, not even my name beside the PDF.

Most Designers offer free patterns to:

  • Draw attention to their other patterns.
  • Attract people to their blogs and web pages etc. Some have affiliate links which reimburse them slightly for the free pattern, by clicks.
  • So people can try a pattern and see that it is well written. This leads to sales.

Many people seem to be of the opinion that designers make a fortune out of patterns. They visualise them sitting in a room surrounded by money, throwing it in the air and chuckling over their sales. I wish!

Yeah sure I have some affiliate links on my blog, but you can count in cents the amounts I get out of it, so what I wanted for this pattern was future sales once that month was up. I was not going to get these from the 7,000 people who now had access to this pattern. This is pretty much stealing!!!

Another Designer I have been conversing with put it like this:

A free pattern does not mean that the designer has waved all rights to it, and you can do what you want with it. You must have express permission from the designer to share the pattern as anything other than a link to their own page. Free patterns are still copyright.

This Tote was a lot of work.

From design idea, to completion, is a major process. Getting it to the stage that others can remake it with a legible working pattern is huge. Then it has to find its way through testing.
I have another design in testing at present that has been 3 years from idea to now. I found the receipt for the yarn I purchased for it in 2016. So I will have to think carefully just how I will launch this. I doubt I will put it up for free after this experience!

So, if you see any of my patterns offered as PDF or any other form not linked to my ravelry, etsy, love crochet or blog. Please let me know. And I am sure other designers would appreciate the same. Copyright still applies to patterns, even if they are free! PDF downloads are for PERSONAL USE!

Rant over. You may now go back to your crochet and enjoy and I will go back to my money room, and throw my millions around. (I use the stuff as wallpaper you know). Chuckling all the while of course. NOT!


I am adding a footnote to this post due to things that have transpired in the last few days. The group in question that put my pattern up as a PDF has now blocked many designers who questioned them for having their patterns up as PDFs without their permission. My pattern was not the only one, but there was hundreds of designers patterns, many had clearly on them that they were not to be distributed via PDF (including mine).

They have now also posted a long response to their members (who have no idea of what has gone on.) This explanation of theirs is something out of a fairytale and does not stick to the truth at all. The designers are being painted as a problem and the admin as victims. This is sad in the extreme. The admins are being thanked by the members for keeping them safe, from the evil ones who dare to complain that they are misusing their property. They have also stated publicaly that they may start up offering free patterns again in the future. My only hope is that they see sense and post links only, and not PDF’s. Admins of a group this large should know about copyright laws!

An apology to the designers with a promise to respect their intellectual property in future would have gone a long way. I am saddened by the inability for the admins of this group to take responsibility for their mistakes and own them. I guess saying sorry and telling their members what actually happened is too hard.

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