Now that I’ve washed and blocked my Weekender Sweater – the second of Andrea Mowry’s designs I’ve finished – I remain unimpressed with many of her garments. While I am thrilled with the finished product (most of the credit for which lies the indie dyer I bought my yarn from, Old Soul Fiber Co.) I won’t be purchasing any other DreaReneeKnits patterns anytime soon. Here’s why.
As a designer I like to write patterns that are universally understandable and, of course, reasonably priced. As knitters and crocheters we already spend (sometimes exorbitant) money on yarn and tools, so why add to the cost of a handmade garment with the price of a pattern? The absolute most I will generally pay for a pattern is $4, but given the popularity of Mowry’s designs I wanted to give a few of them a shot. I can now say with complete certainty that there are patterns of comparable quality and features for at least half the cost if you’re willing to do the research. A simple search on Ravelry will provide you with many options to choose from in a much more reasonable price range.
2. Design Elements
Again, when you look at the exorbitant cost of Andrea’s patterns, I find most of them to be simple enough that a much more budget-friendly or even a free pattern would produce a garment of similar quality. Her most popular garments incorporate a few items of interest but lack any advanced shaping or design elements; they pale in comparison to designs of the caliber of Stephen West which boast ingenuity and architectural interest and run about the same price or even cheaper. Color combinations seem to be the most intriguing feature of the Find Your Fade, Comfort Fade, and other related designs, which again are pretty simplistic on their own. I love a good mindless knit, but for the price, I would find a free pattern I really liked and get creative with my own color combinations.
3. Gauge Issues
I almost didn’t finish the Weekender because the gauge was so messed up in the beginning. I am not a loose knitter, and in order to obtain the correct gauge I had to go down 2 needle sizes. But that didn’t end up being the issue on my first go around – I matched my gauge perfectly, chose the size that would provide the desired amount of positive ease (as specified in the finished measurements) and ended up with a torso that I could have used for a tent. After ripping out almost 700 yards of hard earned knitting time I took a deep breath and cast on the smallest size, which according to the measurements would not give me the desired amount of positive ease – however, it did end up with the correct fit. I understand that this could be operator error but I’ve measured and re-measured and it doesn’t add up. However, I love how it turned out and with some additional shaping added to the waist, it’s a very flattering oversized pullover. You can read the details on my project page here.
I know this is a silly topic to even include but I have to mention it nonetheless: with certain designs gaining widespread popularity, they lose a bit of their uniqueness when literally 10,000 people have knit the same thing. Personally, one of the biggest reasons why I knit and crochet is to create items that are one of a kind, and with internet fame being what it is these days it’s very easy for someone like Andrea Mowry to roll out a design that will quickly amass a heap of FO’s nearly identical to the one you’re going to turn out. I consider hunting for a pattern (or conglomerating one of my own design) an enjoyable part of the creative process, rather than adding a “Most Popular” item to my shopping cart.
None of us will ever be as famous as the lovely Andrea Mowry, and I appreciate the simplistic nature of her designs. However, I wish her price point was just a little bit better given the content that is included in the purchase. In my (unpopular) opinion, the visual appeal of her patterns are top notch but I’m not willing to pay twice as much for aesthetic pleasure.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!