Contracts Are Crucial

by | Mar 4, 2022 | knitdesign

Ok all my knit and crochet design friends, it’s time for cautionary tales with Corrina. Once upon a time there was an aspiring knit designer (yes me). She had just starting publishing patterns and wanted to work with real yarn companies and magazines and do all the things. And she came across a call for submissions from a yarn company. And she submitted. And she was accepted. And there was much rejoicing. But our friend was naive and did not know the ways of the knit designing world. And so she kind of got screwed.

She did everything she was supposed to do per the e-mails she had exchanged with the yarn company. She gave up all her rights to her patterns. She quite nearly didn’t get paid – it got ugly y’all. And then when the designs were published they stripped her name from them. It was a very not fun experience.



Since then other bad things have happened to this knit designer. Even recently she had a design that she will never see the money for even though she had a nice and tight contract. Things happen. But more bad things happen when you don’t have a contract. So get contracts. For everything. Seriously.


Your parts: what you are expected to provide to them and when. Completed projects, charts, written pattern, leftover yarn, etc.


How much and when you will get paid. How will you get paid? Via paypal? Make sure to account for fees. By check? International checks can cost more to cash them than they are worth. So be careful.


Do you ever get your rights back? (Gosh, I hope so!) Are there any restrictions on where and how you self publish this pattern? What about digital rights? Do they have a royalty program you might opt into?


Most major publications do their own tech editing. But I recently had about a book deal where I had to source my own tech editing. But in your contract, see if you can use the tech edited version when you get your rights back.


Again most major publications handle this. Are you allowed to use their pictures in the future?


It seems like I never used to get my samples back, but lately more places are shipping them back to me. Do they think I have more storage room than they do?


What happens if they decide not to publish your pattern? Do you get your sample back and a non-use fee? A standard non-use fee might be 25% of the offered compensation.


Contracts don’t have to be huge involved things, full of legalese. It can be simple language in you agree to provide a certain kind of knitted piece and pattern by a certain date, and for that they will pay you money by a certain time, and you have the rights to self-publish said pattern after one year has passed using their photography and edits. Or whatever variation of that is best for your situation. Just don’t work without a contract. It will bite you in the butt! And yes, this is another do as I say, not as I did lecture from me!


1 Comment

  1. Annabelle Drumm

    Gosh, Corrina it’s a slippery business, isn’t it? In life, thus far, I’ve discovered that karma does balance the books in the end for these sorts of people and for ourselves if we let in the gifts. Meanwhile, contracts are certainly key.
    I’m just beginning my design journey and have started talks with a manufacturer who is interested in working with me. They want commission on the pattern, which is easy to set up on Ravelry as an LYS, however, to “balance the books” I should be able to ask for commission on the wool sold if the buyer comes via my advertising channels via an affiliate link. Surely, it’s got to be a two way agreement.
    Magazines and manufacturers often have their own contract that protects them. Do you know of anywhere I can source templates of clauses that protect the designer?


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