Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Knit and Crochet Designers, please Don't do this!

Oh my gah, I am pulling out my hair.

I love her to death, but I think she finds these things online just to test me. You remember my friend Betsy, right! Yeah? No? Well, if you don't, she's a retiree, been knitting for a long time, but still at a beginner level, and she is okay with that.

So last week, she brought a project to me that almost stumped me, almost.

I'll have to say that sometimes, Betsy is not the best at judging the book by the cover, especially when it comes to picking patterns to knit from the myriad of freebie patterns strewn across the interwebs. She buys knitting books and magazines, but likes to go pattern searching online for freebie because she can search specific keywords to find exactly what she wants to knit rather than flipping through all her books and magazines.

Vacation Knits-Vol 1

So, Betsy wanted to find a simple project for a long road trip she was planning. She goes online to start her search. Of course she wanted a free pattern, which is find, but like they say, you get what you pay for.

The other day, she brought this mess of a project. I mean it was not good, at all. So I had her show me the pattern page and in less than 5 seconds it became glaringly clear why this pattern was a problem and she should not have attempted to make. I am all about building her confidence to try new techniques and make mistakes, but in this cause, so much could have been avoided.

Remember what I said about judging a book but it's cover? Well, imagine the pattern page as the cover that is a window to the written instructions within. First, the pattern page was not complete. There were no information on the yarn used, the gauge, needles, how it's constructed, nothing. Failing to fill out that information is generally a big red flag to the completeness of the actual written pattern.

Then for giggles (because I wanted to confirm my suspicions), I had Betsy show me the printed copy of the pattern she was using and unfortunately it was exactly as expected from the pattern page. It was more than spelling/grammatical errors; we are all humans, these things happen. It was the lack of "required" information that is pertinent to achieving the same result as the designer.

KNitDesigns by Tian

Forget abut the romance copy that is all cutesy and clever about what inspired the designer, that stuff is optional, but there was no yarn and needle details included, just "worsted weight yarn". Was it wool, acrylic, cotton? Because those behave differently. Was it a size 9, 8 or 7.5 needle used? What gauge did you get? Was it loose or dense? Needless to say this headband for a baby turned out almost big enough to fit around a telephone pole, twice. Also, the stitch pattern was off. The yarn overs in the poorly lit photo are suppose to line-up certain spots, but didn't if you followed the written directions.

So, there are a lot of things I don't believe we "should" do, just what makes us feel good. But when you are writing a pattern that you are sharing with the world, whether it'd free or for pay, there are A LOT of things that you not only should do, but MUST do if you want to be a knit and crochet designer.


By the way, if you are wanting hands-on help with pattern writing, register for my Writing 101 E-Course: Write your first (or next) knit/crochet pattern.

Registration is only open to {The Weekly Yarn} subscribers at the time. So, if you are not on the list, get on it!

Class Starts May 15th and runs for 4-weeks, so sign-up today.

Until next time...Stitch on!
A rising tide lift many boats


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  1. You need to teach Betsy the wonders of adding her books and patterns to Ravelry so she can easily search what she has :)

    1. You are so right. I need her to take that step to get her books and magazines into her library.

      To be fair, I think sometimes we all like to go roaming for new patterns even when we know we have great ones right here at home?

  2. I beg to differ. There are some truly excellent free patterns in the world from which I've gotten far more than I paid. OTOH, I recently bought an indie crochet pattern from a well known and widely published designer. It is an absolute mess. It reads like the designer only ever made an XS, guessed wildly at the others, and never had the other sizes tested. Tech editing? Forget it! The given starting chains don't match the given increase rows, the sleeve split didn't give instructions for any size other than XS, and even though my gauge is significantly larger than given, my sweater is still smaller than the size I'm supposedly making. But the pattern looks so nice! Professional photography, nice formatting, and it's got all that necessary info about sizing and gauge and yarn. It still stinks. And yes, I left a comment on the pattern page and am waiting to hear back from the designer.

    1. I absolutely agree with your point Ann. There are many great free patterns out there and many stinky for pay patterns too, even with pretty covers (sorry about your current stinky experience, btw). In my experience (from a knitter/crocheter point of view) with free and paid patterns, if the pattern has incomplete details on the pattern page, that has been a great indication of what I can expect with the pattern instructions and have used this as a way to filter. I'm sure I am missing some great patterns filtering this way.

      From a designer perspective, I think you are eliminating your chance of being found in a search if you have not filled in the pattern page with key search term such as how the pattern is constructed (i.e. top down, in the round, raglan sleeves, etc). It doesn't hurt, right?

      Also, when you hear back from the designer, I would love to hear how the situation was handled (no names or anything like that), so I can share on the blog tips on how to handle this situation (giving both sides).

      Thanks for sharing :)