My knitwear designer emails are rarely that interesting. They are mostly trying to sell me things, tell me what I should be doing to have better sales, or informing me about something I have no time for.
Knitwear Designer Real Life
One of the benefits of being self-employed is that I don’t have to do things I can’t or am not good at doing. What you see coming out of my business is done mostly by me. I hire out some tasks I either can’t do or am so terrible at doing that I might as well not. The not-so-beneficial aspect of being self-employed — and having your name as your business — is that sometimes it falls on me to do things I would rather never have to do.
I spend a great deal of time trying to ensure that people don’t have to ask me a lot of questions about my patterns because I don’t like having to drop what I’m doing to answer them, and it makes me feel badly that I caused them distress. I try to handle all inquiries that come into my office as quickly as I can, within the hours I am at my desk. Sometimes I answer before that from my phone (but right now my email is broken) and sometimes I answer from the couch in the evening (but not if I’ve been drinking!).
Since the pandemic began I have changed my working hours from 9 to 6 or 9:30 to 6:30, Monday through Friday (lunch from 12:30 to 1:30). I also took two hours off daily during my month of radiation treatments. I usually spend at least an hour in my office on Saturdays, but if needed, all afternoon; Sundays are the same, but I consider it dedicated time to get ready for my next week by cooking, doing my ironing, and other things around the house.
Today’s Knitwear Designer Emails
This morning when I opened my business email this was waiting for me:
Dear Ms. Wolcott:
I believe that I have sent you several emails requesting that I be sent a paper hardcopy of the Southeast Light Cap pattern, due the simplereason that I cannot download nor print the pattern here at my home. I don’t own nor can afford a printer as well as the limit you have placed on your website for downloading the patterns you sell. If I had known that I would encounter these non-responses from you, I would never had spent the $8 for this pattern.
So for the 3rd request could you please mail me a hardcopy paper copy of the Southeast Light Cap pattern to me. Here is my address: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
I will admit that I have resisted commenting on that website Love Knits or is it Love Crafts of the trouble I have encountered with you. Yet these times require that I do not act on compulsion…that I don’t do that to myself by doing such an abhorrent act. With much regards… xxxxxxxxxxxx
How Does One Respond?
A lot of things occurred to me, none of which I followed through on. I wrote an email, saved it, printed the pattern, calculated postage, and made a mailing label, took a photo of the envelope to send to the writer, and went back to my email. I edited it to be a little less frank. Then I went down and made more coffee, hung my laundry, and finished tidying the kitchen. I returned to the email, and rewrote it with a more positive spin:
Thank you for your email; this is the first time I have seen an email from you.
It is pretty irregular for someone to buy a download pattern and then demand a hard copy, but as you say, these are unusual times. My patterns are offered as downloads and as a hard copy the pattern would be $10, plus shipping. That said, I am mailing you a copy (photo attached), but I cannot get to the post office until Friday.
It would have been so nice had you chosen to contact me pleasantly and explained your dilemma. I would have been happy to explain to you how to use the pattern on your computer or device, or suggest quicker ways to get it printed. I am not sure why you felt it necessary to make a demand, tell me how horrible I am, and how wonderful you are for not trashing me on various platforms.
I hope you enjoy the hard copy pattern.
Sincerely, Jill Wolcott
I then placed the envelope by the front door to be mailed tomorrow. I was under no obligation to do this, despite the demand. Generally speaking, I’m a nice person.
Helpful Emails to the Designer
I have been doing a test knit through YarnPond since July 15. Most of the testers have come through that website, with a few who signed up through this website. I mailed yarn that had been made available to me by Universal Yarn, sent everyone a pad of row-tracking stickie notes, and we had a great time fixing my pattern and making samples. Everyone knew I was doing radiation, but I was available whenever I was home, except when enjoying my weekend martinis.
On the day after after the pattern was made available to testers I got this email:
I signed up thinking this would be cute/fun/nice for my grandkids to have.
However, I’ve been knitting 50 years and have never seen so many pages and details for something so seemingly simple. How does one wade through and just find a simple set of directions?
These are simple pieces, but tons of directions? There is no way I would print out all those pages–and I print lots of patterns.
If you can send/tell a quick way thru, please do so!
There isn’t even anything complicated like fancy types of cables, etc. I can’t imagine doing this w/o simple directions. This is worse than those Drops patterns, which at least are generally complicated designs.
Well, . . . Thanks?
Thanks for the feedback xxxx. Sorry it isn’t your cup of tea.Jill
I removed her from my test knit pool. To which she replied:
Im surprised to be so discounted/ excluded bc i asked for a simpler direction set. I am an experienced knitter and i know my cohorts would respond similarly. My knitting buddies would never take up days reading, listening, downloading tons of info for one simple project. I think it would clarify and truly raise desire for your project ,which looks cute and useful to be mindful of knitters time and effort. Your choice to exclude me from your project is egregious when all you had to do is remit a simple set of directions. Im disappointed and surprised!,
So I tried again:
It sounded like you were not interested. If you look carefully you will see that this is a tutorial, not a regular pattern. I didn’t promise a simple project, and I am not obligated to provide you with something other than what I gave you. The pattern/tutorial has five patterns and you received all of them.
You are not the customer for this and not the right tester for this project. That is fine. A test knit is a collaborative process. Your email to me was vaguely insulting to me and my work, I have plenty of testers, so it seemed best to end our relationship right there. You got the pattern I promised. You don’t like it. That is fine. I was gracious and yet you feel you need to tell me how my work should be done/presented.
I find, especially right now, that it is best to keep my life positive. Constructive criticism is great, but not this. Thanks so much. Jill
But she needed the last word.
Too surprising to be dismissed/discounted by a fellow knitter! I expressed an option to accommodate more knitters– the many of us who enjoy a challenge and the art with as much ease as possible. To be told one is removed is quite disconcerting; I invite a more inclusive point of view–experienced knitters like variety with ease. My hunch is that you and I both enjoy knitting and both have much to offer. Being fired from knitting is extreme–considering another point of view is just life and works. Learning new knit points and ways is great, and there are lots of ways to teach them. Your bath things are cute and I look forward to seeing more. I did delete so do not have the plans.
Jill Wolcott Knits
I admit that I have my own way of doing things. It is why I have been self-publishing and working for myself for so long. I am happy with my work, and how I present it, and I can even put up with the emails criticizing my pricing, but why do communications show such unpleasantness?
You don’t want to use Action charts? Fine.
You don’t want my complete written instructions? Buy from someone else.
Why am I as a knitwear designer expected to provide services and products on demand? I like to ask people who criticize my prices if they are willing to walk into Louis Vuitton to demand that they sell to them for less?
What a Knitwear Designer Owes You
Knitwear designers for the most part do not make much money. We expend a great deal of talent, skill, energy, and creativity creating products we hope will delight our customers. I hire sample knitters, photographers, photo editors, editorial and administrative assistants, and a tech editor. Everyone else gets paid immediately and regardless of whether or not I make money on that product. I rarely make enough to get paid at all.
No one is required to buy what I create, but I think we could raise the bar a bit to include civility in communications.
As designers we want to showcase great yarn, and be respected for what we do. And no. I’m not providing samples in multiple yarns.
Knitwear Designer Email Postscript
You are NOT horrible….when I did not hear back from you, I felt so dismayed and honestly wondered why you weren’t responding. I did Not trash you on that platform as I redirected to it to see if anything can be done…I made no comment whatsoever with or at that website. Us humans are nobly created by God and I believe you are one who protects that nobility within you. It shows itself eloquently through your beautiful creations. I humbly do my best on protecting mine.Us creative people ARE SPECIAL….you gift to humanity beautiful creations through your patterns. I first became aware of your Southeast Light pattern when I had a friend order that Safe Harbor Cowl kit from North Light. I knitted it for my friend so that she can gift it to her daughter, who just passed her 1 year mark as a nurse at the hospital in Livingston Montana. I am so grateful she was able to get that gift. Jessica just recently told her Mom that 2 of her colleagues got the virus at that specific hospital. I think and pray for her safety just as I pray for your too. Please treasure this knowledge that little ole’ me thinks of you.Thanks to Sven I first noticed your pattern. I am approaching my 59th year and I’ve been knitting for a Cooperative since May 2012 and have been knitting since I was young. Your pattern will challenge me Jill…I thank you for that so very much.I collect a limited income every month and live alone…my knitting helps sustain me. I pray that your creations will continue to sustain you too through this turbulent period affecting ALL humanity.With much high regards…
This year is challenging. Shall we try to call out our better selves more often?