Links to blog posts and discussions revolving around #FairFiberWage. If you know of any that should be added to this list, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blog Posts (in order by date with the most recent first)
Catch up with WPK founder Alex Capshaw-Taylor at TNNA at the F+W Media booth #367 on Saturday from 1-2pm. You can also catch her knitting at the Marriott Marquis (next to the convention center) on Friday and the Renaissance Hotel (next to the convention center) Saturday night. Stop by and say hi!
Staff writer Hannah Thiessen will also be out and about the showroom floor collecting info at TNNA from designers and shop owners for her next Tuesday Tips article. Be sure to stop her if you have some thoughts to share for the upcoming post. Her next topic will be “To Paper or Not To Paper”.
We want to hear your experiences with selling paper patterns in local yarn stores! What choices do you make when printing your patterns that you believe makes them stand out? How do you expect LYSOs to display them, and have you noticed major differences in patterns that sell well digitally vs. physically?
This discussion topic has been a long time coming, still I find it difficult to broach. There is always the fear of retribution, either perceived or real, from yarn companies and publishers. However, after another demoralizing incident last week, I feel I must speak out.
I was contacted a couple months back by an established yarn company who told me I was at the top of their list of designers with whom they’d like to work. Vague terms were discussed in their initial email. I mentioned my typical going rate for work and was told I could negotiate terms if a design was selected. They sent me some mini-skein samples and I put together a proposal of a few designs, of which they selected one.
The yarn was shipped before the contract was sent. When the contract arrived, the terms were not equitable for the amount of time and talent that went into the work. Among other things, they wanted to purchase the sample for $0.15 a yard or $150 for approx. 40 hours of work (and I’m a fast knitter). Additionally, the contract was one-sided. The list of designer responsibilities was numerous, while those of the yarn company were sparse; they could nullify the contract, I could not.
My terms were not greedy and were in-line with previously agreed fees with other companies with which I’ve worked. I modified the contract to reflect my terms and sent it back. When a couple weeks had passed and I still hadn’t received a signed contract or counter offer, I contacted them. I was told that they hadn’t realized that I had modified the contract (apparently they hadn’t even opened it), would discuss it in their staff meeting, and get back to me. The next day I received a curt email that they had “decided to change directions, and will not be moving forward with your sweater design.” and “Could you return the yarn please?”
While disappointed that they decided to go this route, this is not what made me upset. I appreciate it is their decision to act in the best interest of their company; they have an established budget. As the designer, I act in my best interest by asking for fair compensation and terms and modifying a contract as necessary. What infuriated me was the fact that the contract that I returned to them WAS NOT EVEN OPENED. It made me wonder how many of us allow ourselves to be devalued because “that’s what they are willing to pay me.” This makes me both sad and angry. I think that it speaks to two larger problems in our society: 1. women’s work in general is undervalued and 2. women typically do not negotiate their contracts out of fear that they won’t be liked.
It is exasperating that people within our industry are willing to devalue the work of others and take advantage to the point of exploitation. The ultimate result is that we all lose. It is almost impossible to make a living wage as a designer in this industry (and I feel I’m one of the fortunate ones). Much of our work is treated like a hobby because we enjoy knitting. I do enjoy knitting, but I’m not a volunteer, I’m not working out of the ‘kindness of my heart’, or for ‘exposure.’ This is my livelihood. I’m a professional who possesses a unique and specialized set of skills that advance our industry and keep the machine running. My designs inspire others to buy your yarn. I earn my compensation.
I implore all of you reading this to not let others dictate your value, not to feel like you have to capitulate to the terms set by a publisher or yarn company, to have the courage to tell them what you are worth and ask for it in your contract. They may say no, but at least you know you stood up for you. And collectively, the more we do this, we can change the system. As for the design that this particular yarn company decided they weren’t moving forward with, it’s a strong design and I have no doubt that it will be published with another company who’s willing to equitably compensate me for it.
I am interested in how other designers have handled these issues, what your experiences have been, and what you think about how to address the systemic problem.
One thing is clear: freelance knitwear and crochet designers are in the dark about the going rate for a design and how our pay stacks up against fellow designers. The goal of WhoPaysKnitters is to shine a light on what our industry pays by providing crowdsourced data on actual rates shared by those doing the work. Our hope is that this information better equips knitwear and crochet designers, tech editors, sample knitters, and teachers for future negotiations.
To submit or view posted rates for designers, tech editors, sample knitters, and teachers follow the links provided or use the menu at the top of the page. Please only submit rates of which you have first-hand knowledge and on contracts that have been fully executed. WhoPaysKnitters makes no claim to the veracity or accuracy of the information published herein.