Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Waste of Money and Trees

Last weekend, Sean and I headed to the mall to use some holiday gift cards we received. While there, we stopped by the calendar place to check out the 50% off deals. I was excited to see both the Crocheting and Knitting Pattern-a-Day Calendars were there and only half price...and yes, I bought them both.

Last year, I bought the knitting calendar and found some very fun patterns. When I got home, I opened the crochet calendar first, anticipating all the fun patterns that resided inside the little box. Off came the wrapper and I started flipping through the days...

...and it was like a car wreck. It was so horrifying and disgusting and yet I could not look away.

The patterns, the projects, the yarns - such disappointments! The color choices were reminiscent of cheap acrylic choices from the 1970's. And the amateur photos with their lack of focus, lack of staging, lack of interest - but that is not to say the photos were solely to blame for the fugliness of the projects.

I was appalled. I was angry. I was frustrated. I wanted to scream,

  • "Crocheted projects are not this ugly!"

  • "You don't have to use cheap ugly yarn!"

  • "Why the F did somebody design this and how the F did it get accepted for this calendar?!"

Case in point - October 8, 2009 is a pattern for crocheted "poo".

Yes - you read that correctly. Poo.

It looks like the top of a DQ ice cream cone in chocolate but the designer decided to add googly eyes, pink cheeks, and a pink smile. Gack.

In short, the majority of this pattern-a-day calendar is fodder for What Not to Crochet. I sincerely hope that someone who is new to crochet did not buy this calendar hoping it would be a great way to get some awesome patterns. I think this calendar could make some newbies throw away their hooks forever.

Yes - it's that bad and I'm not being a drama-crocheter.

I don't use these pattern-a-day calendars as actual calendars. I flip through all the days to find patterns that I like and I pull those patterns out. When I was reviewing the 2009 crochet calendar, it was not until April 27th that I found a pattern I would even think about creating. It is a tufted floor pillow by Bernat. I can't say that I love it, but I do like it and I think I could use different colors to make it. In total, I found only 13 patterns, 3 of which I only pulled out to learn the techniques in the pattern (such as adding a zipper or adding edging to a fleece blanket) and only 5 of which I would even consider using the yarn called for in the pattern.

And did I mention the large number of patterns that spanned over 3, 4 and even 5 days? That's not a pattern-a-day to me. I guess you could say it was a blessing since it may have stopped even uglier patterns from getting into the calendar...if that's even possible.

Now - before you think me too harsh that I'm ripping apart the designs of aspiring crochet designers...

I, myself, took a stab at designing some patterns so I'm a huge proponent of crocheters who do. My issues with the 2009 Crocheting Pattern-a-Day calendar is that when I spend money to buy patterns - an ENTIRE YEAR of patterns - I expect the majority, not the minority, of patterns to be good. I also expect the editors of the calendar to sift through the entries and find a way to showcase just how beautiful crocheting can be. All I can surmise is that the patterns in the calendar are what you get when the publisher isn't willing to pay for submissions. That's right - None of the designers received money for their designs. (Okay - they do get a free calendar, but the cost to the publisher is minimal so it's like getting $5.00 for your pattern while the publisher makes money from every sale.) This may explain the general fugliness of the patterns. Why should a designer who spent lots of time working on a beautiful pattern donate it to a calendar company who is then going to profit from the design?

There is one clear case where this is profitable for the submitter - Did I mention that 7 of the 13 patterns I pulled were from yarn manufacturers such as Bernat and Patons? It's worth the yarn company's free submissions of good patterns to get consumers to buy their specific brand yarns to make the projects. For the regular crochet designer, an accepted submission means getting your blog or website listed with your pattern which is great advertisement and could boost readership/hits to the site. The publisher also has a contest where you could win up to $1000 - that is, if you won both the knitting and crocheting pattern contest. Top prize for each calendar is $500. Misleading? Yep. And if you look at the winners, it's pathetic for the crochet division.

Speaking of misleading, please note that on the main page of the calendars, there is a photo of pattern for a ladybug hat and scarf next to the 2009 crochet pattern calendar. That pattern is NOT in the 2009 edition. It is apparently from the 2008 calendar. From the look of the rest of the publisher's site, updating is not their forte (case in point - 2006 calendar???).

I'd probably write a scathing letter to the publisher demanding my money back had I paid full price for the calendar. Instead, I'm going to take this as being an relatively inexpensive lesson (at the cost of $7.50) and I will not buy one of these crochet calendars ever again.

I still need to go through the knitting calendar. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the results will be much better.

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