Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Errata Made Me a Better Knitter

I live in fear!

After tech editing one of my earlier 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 some thing. 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 for ever. Eventually I started a beautiful lace skirt and top pattern that 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 mistake 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 to make it in the first place.

One of the criteria designers use when choosing test 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 for less experienced Knitters. One of my test knitters once asked a question about a wrapped stitch 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 wrapped 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.

The original error made me a better Knitter more independent, more thoughtful, more resourceful. I still don't want ANY errors in my patterns though!

I've posted links to a few other blog that write about this issue below.

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?


  1. I have been a test knitter for 6 different designers and for the majority of them they do not appreciate being questioned on the finer aspects such as the one you metioned, in spite of the fact that at the start they ask you to question everything don't just guess...

  2. Until recently, I always used whatever yarn was available, and adapted patterns that I found. So I was always deconstructing as I went.

    Nowadays, if I'm following a pattern, I usually skim the written instructions, but rely heavily on the chart and photo. If there is no chart, I make one. No wonder I'm finding it hard to write my first few patterns!


  3. Thanks for your explanation! You're right!
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