Last week I read a blog post that really struck me, and I've been thinking about it off and on for several days. Sharon Silverman, a crochet designer and instructor, highlighted several mistakes she found in crochet patterns and publications. Then she recounted the reactions she got when she brought those mistakes to the attention of the designers. The responses were varied - everything from posting errata on Ravelry to no public acknowledgement at all. Sharon seemed puzzled by the lack of action to correct the errors once they were spotted.
I share that same frustration on a couple levels. I buy a lot of patterns for kits and to have on hand in my booth. Within the past year I discovered that a pattern I stocked contained several glaring errors. First, I pointed them out to the designer. While the designer acknowledged the errors, she seemed to think the problem lay with the distributor. I followed up with the distributor, all to no avail.
When I felt I'd hit a dead end, I made the decision to remove the pattern from my lineup. The bottom line is I felt the response was inadequate, and I could no longer offer the error-filled pattern to my customers. Months later a page of errata finally appeared online, and I trust the current copies in print have been corrected.
By contrast I've pointed out errors to a handful of other designers. More often than not, they've graciously accepted my comments and corrected the mistakes. In this day and age of electronic files, it's very easy to correct patterns. In fact some designers will alert customers that there have been updates / corrections to patterns they've previously purchased. How nice is that?
I teach knitting classes, and I'm always up-front with my students. I warn them that patterns can have mistakes, but I also suggest they check online for errata. There's nothing more frustrating than creating a knitting nightmare because you followed the pattern as written or puzzling out a pattern that doesn't make sense because it has errors. I know from firsthand experience that checking online for errata doesn't guarantee you'll find all the errors, but sometimes it can save a lot of knitting time and headaches.
Patterns are being produced at an incredible rate, and it's inevitable that some will have errors. Maybe my standards are unrealistic. I do expect that when mistakes come to light, steps are taken to get the word out with the correct information. On a more practical level, I tend to invest in patterns from designers who have well-written, thorough instructions without a lot of errors.
But I'm curious. What are your expectations from a pattern?
Moving along to something a little more fun . . . I donate a fair amount of yarn over the course of a year to various giveaways and fundraisers. I've decided to shift some of those resources to the blog and share them with my readers. Every month I'm going to run a contest, and this week marks the first one.
The Olympics are right around the corner, and I know some of you are probably setting knitting challenges to be completed during the games. What's your challenge? Leave a comment and tell me what you plan to work on during the Olympics or any project that's captivated your attention in the new year. The winner, chosen at random, will receive a skein of yarn from Dirty Water DyeWorks - winner's choice. The contest closes on Sunday, February 2, 2014.