We all do this and are shocked when we miss something! TL;DR or TDLR is an acronym designed to communicate that we skimmed, or just moved on.
So as the proud author of a pattern that consumes 99 pages (among many more in the 40-ish page range) how can I overcome this tendency amongst all of us? I can’t because I also want to give you the best information!
How Do You Know If You Miss Something?
Years ago I had a pattern in Cast On magazine. I kept getting questions about what do do after the shoulder shaping. I looked at my version of the pattern, not the one that ultimately got printed and didn’t see what the problem was. When I finally looked at the printed version I realized that a heading was missing!
The pattern went directly from the shoulder shaping/ending to casting on for the bottom band of the sleeve, without a heading saying “Sleeve”. So while it makes complete sense that after ending the shoulder one does not then cast on stitches, there was nothing that indicated that the next instruction was for a new piece.
My first sample knitter insisted that I put in the pattern that the yarn should be cut on completion of a piece. Okay, it might not be necessary for you, but everyone comes to what they are knitting with a different toolbox. And she was right. There is something assuring about being told to cut the yarn!
I tend to err on the side of giving information that might be intuitive to some knitters, rather than assuming it will be intuitive to all. Although the information may be there, skimming over instructions can lead to a misunderstanding of what steps to follow, milestones can be missed, and cues overlooked.
TL;DW Too long (to read); Didn’t work
We often find ourselves in this situation here at headquarters. I was making charts, while not also reading the written instructions on row repeats, and I thought we had a row we didn’t need. The written instructions were entirely correct and that row was needed. I decided that for the person who may not be following the written instructions closely that I need to put a note with the charts as well as clarifying the written instructions.
Reality is that most often when someone can’t figure something out they have 1) not read carefully, 2) misread, or 3) not read in context. I used to ask my students what they didn’t understand. Most common was “all of it.” I asked that they go back and narrow it down and I would be happy to help them solve each individual issue they had. Usually they had not read to the end of the sentence, let alone the end of the paragraph!
I use different types of text in my patterns as a cue, and I just added a new one this week (see list below). Everything is the same font, but I utilize color, bolding, italics, and underlining to communicate different types of information. I gave up my beloved orange as a subheading color when I tested it and it was difficult to read.
There is a System!
This is a list of ways I use type cues in my patterns.
- Bold, lowercase, purple headlines, centered. Used for main parts of the pattern: information you can use, road maps and schematics, techniques, basic stitch patterns, directions.
- Bold, UPPERCASE, purple subheads, centered. Sections of the written/charted Instructions.
- Bold, Sentence case, purple subheads, left aligned. Subheadings within Sections, chart headings.
- Italics, sentences/paragraphs. Appear after subheads and within written instructions. Used to communicate that I am talking to you and making suggestions.
- Text, sentences/paragraphs. Gives information directly related to how to work within the Section.
- Bolded Text. Identifies other Sections referenced or something important to notice. I also use it for the second set of sizes so it is easier for the eye to land.
- Underlined text. Emphasis on a detail or instruction (instead of plain bolded text).
- Hyperlinks, underlined, blue, any text. Used to link to other parts of the pattern and outside links for information.
- Tables, Text. Presented so it aligns with your knitting on the needles.
- NEW!!! Bold, Dark Purple, text. This instruction means it might look wrong, but it isn’t!