The Walrus and the Embroiderer

“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “to talk of many things. Of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings, and why the sea is boiling hot, the end of Lavender Wings.”

It has come to my attention that Linda at Lavender Wings is taking down her designing shingle. She explains, “…internet piracy and declining sales have made it impossible for me to continue to produce and sell charts….”

Oh, no!

Most of the comments and discussion I’ve seen relating to this latest loss focus on internet piracy. It’s a problem, to be sure. Some stitchers think they’re doing each other a favor by scanning and sharing patterns online, but that’s a short-sighted view. Will the stitchers still think it’s a favor when all their favorite designers are out of business?

But it’s the other part of the sentence I want to address here. I haven’t heard anyone discuss this part: declining sales.

Okay, so this one is a little harder to discuss. Who’s the Bad Guy here; who can we accuse and blame?

Fewer people are stitching. Avid stitchers are stitching less or stitching different kinds of things. More people are designing. Designs are smaller and coming out more frequently. The market simply cannot support the number of designers and designs out there. So no one’s to blame, right?

Who, me?

Or maybe we’re all to blame. We, the consumers, choose the products, manufacturers, and stores that get our money. Our dollars are votes: those who receive them are the ones we elect to stay in business.

Not long ago, a stitcher said to me, “Oh, I don’t buy patterns anymore; I can find more free patterns on the Web than I can stitch in my lifetime.” I assure you she wasn’t talking about pirated patterns; she was merely referring to the scads of widely and legally available freebies.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Not a thing.

However, we should acknowledge the consequences of our choices. If we’re not willing to pay designers for their work, they will stop doing it. If free designs are what we choose to support, eventually, they may be all we have available.

Hmm…let me think.

So, what will it be today? A caffeinated frou-frou bevvie? A fast-food lunch? Two hours of movie entertainment at the local theater? Or hours of entertainment with a new kit by your favorite designer? Or maybe two of those kits so you can share the fun with a friend?

How do you choose to spend your money today?

“Oh, designers,” said the Embroiderer, “you’ve had a pleasant run. Shall we be charting something new?” But answer came there none. But this was scarcely odd because they’d retired, every one.

Opening and closing stanzas adapted from The Walrus and the Carpenter, by Lewis Carroll, with thanks to Mr. Jacobs who challenged me to memorize it in sixth grade.

Categories: Needlework

5 replies »

  1. Ack! I was finishing a fairly long comment and my four-footed, furry friend, Ninja, just deleted it! (He suffers from the mistaken notion that he can type.)
    Jen, I love The Walrus and the Carpenter! Well done!
    Excellent post and the perfect pics!
    You make excellent points. What can we do about this? Yes, I download freebies, but I certainly still buy designs (if I can’t win them in a contest! 😉 ) But this hobby isn’t cheap in terms either of money or time and we do have to make decisions. I want my favorite designers to keep producing, even though I probably have more in my stash than I can ever finish.

  2. I’ve been buying charts for 20+ years and my buying has outstripped my stitching pace. Now I only buy a few charts a year.

    I honestly don’t think the free charts are the problem. What about designers/stores/industry judging the market? What about marketing? What about creating new stitchers? Those problems seem to me to be much much bigger than freebies.

  3. You’re right, Anna. The problems are numerous and stem from different aspects of the business. I contemplate discussing them, because I tend to think discussion is ALWAYS good, but they can be such hot-button issues. I worry about topics or my opinions sounding like sour grapes or dirty laundry.

    I cut Linda’s quote about five words short from the end of the sentence because those five words, in my opinion, open a whole ‘nother can of wormy problems.

    I’m curious enough about reader opinions, though, that I may suck it up and post my ideas on some of these issues. Maybe we should have Walrus Wednesdays.