Friday, August 3, 2018

August Reboot Series - Errata

This month I'm going to be doing some re-posting of older blog posts. Some like this one will have updates included as when I reread I often realize I've learned something new since the original post went up.  I hope to have all new interviews every Friday but many Pros take the month of August off and in past years I haven't always been able to get enough interviews back to fill all the August dates.  (As predicted I sent out a much higher number than usual of interview invitations but I don't yet have a new one to post.) 

When I first started publishing patterns I received an email from my editor that said "The pattern itself was perfect -- no changes." You would think that I would be thrilled to get a note like that....right? Well no, I worried that maybe she missed something. Unfortunately I remember all too clearly my early days of knitting when an error in a pattern could be a cause for so much frustration that a project would be tossed aside and discarded forever. 

When I was first knitting I started a beautiful lace skirt and top pattern which had an error. Since I was a novice knitter I assumed the fault was mine and kept tearing back and re-knitting. The stitch pattern was written not charted as charts were far less common when I was first knitting. Back then I was an isolated knitter, the only other knitters I knew were related to me and none were especially advanced. I loved the design and I was determined to finish it so I persevered. I wrote the pattern out line by line comparing each one and counting out the stitches until I found one row that was missing (are you ready) one yo!

I still remember the hours I spent to find and correct this error, so you would think I would be ready to rant about pattern errors and how totally unacceptable they are. Actually what it taught me was how a tiny little error could completely mess up the pattern and since it was so difficult to find that error how very easy it is for the pattern writer to make it in the first place.

One of the criteria designers use when choosing test and sample knitters is that they need to be very literal interpreters of patterns. If they override the pattern instructions using their knitterly skills they may miss identifying problems in the pattern. One of my test knitters once asked a question about a dropped stitch pattern which lead me to check every stitch dictionary that I own. What did I discover? There appeared to be two similar but slightly different instructions that produced a different length of dropped stitch. It was critical to the result obtained and meant that I worded the pattern differently and hopefully no one else ran into that problem. 

Sometime ago I collaborated with another designer on a project. She was very experienced and told me she had learned to accept that errors slip through even when she was using more than one tech editor and multiple test knitters. I do try to remember this when an error is discovered and fortunately the digital publishing world has the added feature of being able to update patterns.

The original error in that lace pattern made me a better knitter, more independent, more thoughtful, more resourceful. However, I still don't want ANY errors in my patterns!

Let me know what you think. Do you hate a designer who has an error in their pattern? Do you swear off ever knitting another one of their designs? Or do you forgive them and understand that some errors are inevitable?

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