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  • It’s my first Stitches too… Newbies unite! See you tonight. 🙂

  • Have fun at SS! This is the first year since 2010(ish?) that I won’t be able to make it so I’m really looking forward to hearing about how it went.

    The Saori studio’s loom test drives was a particular treat last year (plus sitting down after clocking miles and miles walking around the Gaylord is a seriously wonderful thing). And I’m still kicking myself over not getting a skein of Lost City Yarn’s dreamy silk in the most scrumptious silver ever. Sigh.

  • I’d like to add in a word regarding the importance of making a pattern easy to read in the simple, physical sense. The ability to generate “elegant” and “artistic” layouts can be intoxicating, no question. It’s fun. It’s pretty. But if an ordinary knitter with less than perfect vision cannot easily read the %^&*%$ pattern because the text is thin…or grey…or tiny…or melts into underlying images…what’s the point?

    • PREACH SISTER QUINN. Pale gray text is criminal negligence in my book. our demographic demands CONTRAST and we demand it NOW. (And I apologize for the gray text in our search box lol.)

  • Jean Miles of “Jean’s Knitting” in Edinburgh has successfully completed the Tokyo shawl with many comments about it. Her blog is delightful as is her knitting. Check it out if you have time.

    • Ditto! I love Jean’s blog. In fact, 3 of my friends and I are knitting the Tokyo shawl due to Jean’s influence. I blocked their shawls but I’m still working on mine. You’ll enjoy knitting the Tokyo.

  • What a great post. I am an experienced knitter, and have been stymied by poorly written patterns many times. Good of you to help Judy, and I hope she shares her finished coat for dear Clyde with you (and you with us). Thanks for the heads up on the new book by Kate!

  • I’m working on a project for which the instructions have been translated from Finnish to English. It has been a long, hard road up to this point, but I’m almost done, thank goodness.

  • Love me some Stitches!!!!! See you Sat. I will be armed wih my shopping list which I will promptly throw away at the first step inside the market!……

  • Amen! Amen! Amen! Preach it, sistah!

  • The Ravelry page you linked notes that there are errata for that pattern. It also has a link for more information about the pattern.

  • Thanks for this rant. I am indignant that you and Judy had to waste so much precious knitting time on a badly-written pattern. Reminds of how Microsoft (and other technology companies) throw an update against the wall to see if it sticks, then force users to work for them reporting all the crap so they can eventually fix it and make money…

  • Seems like that book would be handy to have to help decipher patterns once in awhile, too.

    I’ve never been to Stitches South (and I’m jealous) but I have been to Opryland and it is a trip! Enjoy.

  • Truer words have never been written. Patterns need to be tech edited, and the writing also needs to be edited (something I find woefully amiss in this “I can publish a pattern world.” Perhaps in this world of abbreviated text spelling, we are un-learning how to write and give instructions clearly? I’ve knitted published patterns where after asking on 3300+ stitches for a bottom up shawl, discovered that there was a discrepancy between the chart and the written directions. Of course, starting late at night didn’t help me figure it out, but the clear light of morning sure did.

    thanks, Kay. Hope others read this and take heed!

    • oops — I meant 300+ patterns. My problem — editing my own writing and typing way too fast. Mea Culpa!

      • stitches. Stitches. I need more caffeine.
        this is becoming comical and truly proving the point of editing one’s own writing.

        • Thank goodness we don’t have to get comments tech edited!

  • Back in the day, there would be the instruction to ‘read the entire pattern before starting to knit’; those instructions are not usually included now but I still do it, and it is useful. You can see questions and try to figure them out (as in what type of marker to use) before the fact. Also, I often go online to check for errata before beginning a pattern, particularly with patterns from knitting magazines and yarn companies. All these practices come from years of knitting, and sometimes painful experiences! You are a good friend, Kay!

  • I’m struggling through a poorly written pattern for a doll costume right now. Sometimes I’m not sure if I don’t understand what the pattern says or if it is just plain wrong. The designer is not a newbie, but the book the pattern is from is new, so no one else has knit this pattern yet on Ravelry. And no errata. Question: do you think the fault is with the designer or with the editors? This book lists seven editors, including three pattern editors. Maybe they need Kate Atherley’s book?

  • I got the Tokyo shawl kit at Yarn Fest last year. Part of the kit included an American Addendum. This effectively translated the pattern by colorway. I will email. It helped tremendously

    • Thanks but I have it! Once I figured out how to read it in that odd format I was good to go!

  • I think this problem puts off a lot of people. It happens with recipes & sewing patterns too. As a beginner you think it is you, but really it is the pattern/recipe. It is very frustrating!

    • Yes, all those fancy cookbooks where the recipe reads ” 1. pre-heat oven to 375•” then “2. Marinate roast for twenty-four hours.”. Doesn’t anyone do a “test cook?”

  • It can be so hard when you don’t know what you don’t know. I once emailed the designer of a pattern to ask if one of her directions was in error, because I just couldn’t understand it, and boy was she huffy in her response that it was entirely correct. It turned out she was right but this first-time knitter of that pattern just couldn’t tell.

  • Thanks for the heads up about this book. I’ve long contemplated getting EZ’s “Knitting” without tears, but I need illustrations!

    • “Knitting Without Tears.” Duh.

  • I think I recognize that dog sweater pattern! Certainly there was a a dog sweater pattern that the knitters circle at my LYS spent an afternoon puzzling out. And don’t ask me about the ears on the pig hat that it took three experienced knitters a few hours to figure out how to attach. (The solution was to look at the pattern picture!)

  • Well said! Thank you!

    The number of wasted hours on this in a lifetime will, however, pale in this lifetime compared to the useless hours I’ve spent on electronic devices of any sort.

    Ah, well …

  • Maybe an unpopular opinion, but I gave up on ever knitting anything written by Elizabeth Zimmerman when I got halfway through her baby surprise jacket and the [barely even a] pattern literally said “hope you are still with me.” So unhelpful.

    • I persevered through the Baby Surprise Jacket – I was a fairly recent returner to knitting at the time – but cursed a lot throughout (I think maybe EZ assumed a lot of knowledge?). I never knit another thing of hers again.

      I must say though, having tried to write down simple patterns I’ve made up on the fly in case I want to make them again, it’s really not that easy to do!

  • I actually recognized the pattern. It’s the doggy hoody from Bernat isn’t it? Tell Judy I can help her if she gets stuck while you’re away. Have fun in Nashville!

  • I’ve seen some pretty poorly-written patterns, and (figuratively, anyway) relegated them to the compost heap. A good tip for an inexperienced knitter is to not only read through the patterns, but to do so before buying yarn or needles for it. If you don’t understand something in the pattern, ask a more experienced knitter, do some research, or throw the #$%*%$ out!

    The Tokyo shawl looks gorgeous; hope it’s a lot of fun to knit! Oh, and now is the time to think about Olive’s sweater for 2016-2017. Does she like any of Kaffe’s patterns?

  • I’m pretty sure I have knit that same (urgh) dog sweater pattern. Also, I am buying that book. Also also, I think we are, as a group, breathlessly awaiting your vintage Kaffe creation. Enjoy your travels! 🙂

  • The American version of the instructions is absolutely necessary! Let me know if you need them. Also I subbed M1s for Yos throughout. And I had plenty of yarn to make it a little longer. Just restocked the kits at my shop, just a short Midtown Direct ride away in Madison NJ – please stop by if you are ever in the neighborhood!!

  • I’ve stayed at the Gaylord….Good lord have fun!

  • Kate’s book is already in my cart! Thanks for the recommendation. I have a current wip where the pattern says to pick up stitches up the front, around the neck, and down the other front. No numbers, no helpful proportions. Just, you know, pick them up. Doesn’t really matter what size you’re knitting. And this from a well-known designer. Lesson learned. I won’t be knitting any more of her patterns any time soon.

  • I hope to see you both tomorrow at Stitches. My Nashville son just bought a house, and I’d like to pick Ann’s brain about where to shop for furniture.

    I’m working on the Tokyo shawl, too, although I didn’t bring it along on this trip. You purchased your kit in my booth at VKL in NYC, so I feel personally responsible that you enjoy the knitting! ????

  • Love Marianne Isager’s patterns – but they are written in a cluegy manner – translated into German isn”t better, either! Unfortunately don”t do Danish. The wool is fantastic and perfect for big scarves like that.

  • I’ve had a similar experience with a colleague I taught to knit a couple of years ago. Last summer she wanted to knit a cardi for a friend’s baby. We went on Ravelry and chose an adorable “grandpa sweater” pattern for babies. I carefully read all the Ravelry comments and project notes and there was nothing negative written about the pattern. My friend purchased the pattern and only then we discovered it was a hot mess! I am a pretty experienced knitter and it took me some creative thinking to figure out a lot of the instructions. Fortunately my new knitter is intrepid so she had no problem coming to me for help and advice and ripping out and re-knitting where she had gone wrong. But this pattern was rated easy in Ravelry and it SO wasn’t. So the moral of this tale is that you can’t always trust what is written in Ravelry about a pattern. This knit had a happy ending: my new knitter did a great job, learned a lot of techniques, and the baby’s mom was thrilled with the sweater for her little one!

  • Comment

  • Just a Maine-based comment: it’s “moxie” that your newish knitter friend has. . . . the name of a weird-tasting soda made in Maine. Good thing that she also has you to help her out!

    Just today at post-school week knitting I was helping a friend with (and grousing about) a poorly-written (but well-known) pattern for a kid’s pullover with a pouch pocket and hood. It makes a cute sweater, but I find the directions unclear and the pictures worse. In fact, I pulled up your “Three Tubes Situation” to help my knittin’ buddy get what she was doing.

Travel Alert:

Join us for a festive dinner at Vogue Knitting Live Chicago featuring Clara Parkes and us! Friday, March 9. Details here.