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Designer tips - Third party vs Self publish

There are lots of decisions to make as a pattern designer- what yarn to use and the pattern details are just the start. Something to consider is whether to offer your design idea out to third party publishers or go solo and self publish.

Each option has pros and cons, here are just a few, in no particular order:

Third party


  • Yarn is usually provided.

  • Photography done professionally, depending on the agreement you may be allowed to use these images when the rights revert back.

  • Tech editing costs usually covered.

  • Pattern seen by publishers audience - potential to bring in new customers.

  • Lump sum payment for work rather than waiting for individual sales.

  • Rights may revert back (depends on agreement) and you can self publish later.


  • Submission process takes time and can be disheartening (remember rejection just means your pattern isn't their choice for the call, it doesn't mean the pattern is not good).

  • Have to work to publishers style and requirements, which may not be your preference.

  • Need to meet deadlines, can be a challenge when the pattern is being difficult or life throws a curveball.

  • Less or no choice on working partners - yarn, tech editor, testers etc.

Self publish


  • Total control over the design - the yarn, sizing, details, pattern style etc are all your own choice.

  • Flexible schedule.

  • Choose your own pricing structure.

  • Publish any pattern you choose, no need to fit a particular pattern call.


  • You have to cover all the costs up front - yarn, photography, time, tech editing; then wait for sales to bring in income.

  • Need to market your pattern to achieve sales - promotion on Instagram, Ravelry Newsletter etc.

  • Working without deadlines can lead to procrastination.

You might decide to do a combo - offer your pattern idea for third party publication, but if it is not successful with a submission call or two, go ahead and self publish. Remember to check whether the pattern must be kept secret ahead of publication before you share pictures online, and wait until you receive the pattern call verdict or withdraw your submission before you self publish.

If you have a pattern accepted you may be able to self publish it later depending on the agreement with the publisher. Check the details and make a note in your diary of when the rights revert back.

There are other options, like collaborations with yarn companies to consider too. These tend to be a middle ground in terms of the pros and cons. Chat through the details with the yarn company / dyer and see if you are happy with their terms before you commit yourself.

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