Wednesday, October 25, 2017

On Pattern Support

I've been publishing patterns a little over nine years now and I've learned so much about knitters along the way.

Lately I've been paying attention to the pattern support I give. Generally it seems that I answer questions on about 1 - 3 % of my pattern sales on my best selling patterns. I'm happy to do this as I feel it helps me to improve my pattern writing skills. Oddly, if I go by the email address's I only get questions from North American knitters, even though I sell patterns all over the world.

I found it maddening when I was first designing to hear from established designers how much they hated to do pattern support. I suspect my corporate background in customer service was the source of my perspective. I was told early on that real errors in patterns were often easily identified by knitters and the balance of the questions were related to skill sets and experience.

My tech editor Mary Pat and I work hard to eliminate any errors in my patterns. My record so far is that I have only received two reports of true errors from knitters. One was an incorrect number in the text of a stitch pattern (the chart was correct) and the other was an errant pm abbreviation in the middle of a row. I suspect there may be some other errata of that nature where the knitter figured it out and didn't bother to let me know. I love the fact that with online PDFs I can fix those errors and update the knitters who bought the pattern.

The balance of most of the questions I get do seem to fall into the skill sets and experience area. Some of the knitters will tell me something is wrong but the question is so vague I can't resolve the problem without a back and forth of information. In a few cases I didn't get an answer back so I never know if the knitter was able to complete the project. The other problem I come across is with stitch patterns and the note always tells me the instructions are wrong. If the pattern is recent I sit down and knit a swatch to recheck my instructions. In the case of a popular pattern that's been out for a while I'm more skeptical. Having worked with those knitters and resolved their problem I've noticed that some haven't yet developed the skill of reading their knitting and others don't take the time to do a swatch and use that swatch to learn the stitch pattern. 

There is nothing more frustrating to a knitter than running into a problem when knitting from a pattern. Having assisted many knitters, one thing I've noticed is that some of them assume that they are at fault and others assume that the pattern is at fault. Which one are you? Be honest! 

Now that you figured out which group you belong to, remember this and the next time you are frustrated with a pattern, I want you to flip to the other group while assessing what is going wrong. Just make the opposite assumption and see where that leads you. I can't tell you how often I have discovered that one of these assumptions is what is standing in the way of a knitter resolving the problem. Once you commit to a paradigm it can block your thinking by closing doors to alternative pathways of thought and therefore solutions. Challenge your assumptions and see where that takes you.

1 comment:

  1. As a knitter, I usually think I'm at fault but if I go over directions/charts again and still have the same issue, I start thinking maybe it's the pattern.....and then I go check project pages of others that have knit the project. If there were no issues mentioned, I go back to me being the issue. And I usually am.

    As a designer, I've yet to receive a "this is wrong" message but I have had questions about gauge differences and skill sets, which I'm happy to answer.

    I've also done test knitting, which has a whole other set of problems.