What we fail to see once we become familiar and what we fail to see when we are unfamiliar are what I’m thinking about. I’m doing a test knit on a pattern that hasn’t been available in several years. It has been put into my pattern format from the original, which means everything has to be rechecked, and reread for clarity. Then I added new information into the pattern. It went out to the testers as a “work in progress”, but I think I made some assumptions, and so did they!
Before I get into the specifics, I keep thinking about the book All The Light We Cannot See. I read the book and adored it; my mother didn’t finish it. To me, it was all about where you stand, and who you are, and the role it plays in determining what you see. I was interested to read a NYT review and an interview with the author on Powells.com. Mr. Doerr speaks in the interview about the lyrical nature of the prose and how in a “gesture of friendliness” he made short chapters so white space balanced the lyricism:
My prose can be dense. I love to pile on detail. I love to describe. . . . I know that’s demanding, . . . . “I know this is going to be more lyrical than maybe 70 percent of American readers want to see, but here’s a bunch of white space for you to recover from that lyricism.”
I could completely relate to this. I love to give detail, but I try to break things down into segments, and I put things in tables to make them easier to read, and I use white space. But, I think I may need to go a little further. What I do is, after all, non-fiction, not fiction.
What We Fail to See With Familiarity
I will be the first to admit what I fail to see. When I am the least bit familiar with a pattern I am lousy as a sample knitter because I do what I know I should do, not what the pattern says. This causes problems when I am trying to find problems with the pattern. Likewise, because I am writing the pattern, I fail to see a lot of things as I edit. I should be better when I am redoing a pattern, but this is what I have failed to see so far in this instance:
- That I refer to bottom trim, but the section title is Bottom Rib.
- I used SRtog as an abbreviation, but it is SR-tog.
- I changed the length on the schematic, but failed to go into the written pattern and change the length there.
- I forgot that I had put in X instead of actual page numbers for schematics, techniques, stitch patterns.
- I did not say that length should be measured from toe to instep or top, not along the side or bottom (where there are short rows).
I haven’t begun to comb through the pattern, so I anticipate I will find other things. In my own defense, this pattern has not been tech edited since I began this reformatting process and added things into it. My tech editor is a marvel at catching my inconsistencies.
What We Fail to See When We Lack Familiarity
So knitters tend to dive into patterns because getting to the knitting is really what we want. Reading patterns is just a side thing (well for most knitters, I know there are knitters out there who comb through patterns before they start so they can find those things we fail to see) required by the desire to make “the thing”.
- Knit until . . . or desired length . . . , or approximately 0.5″ less than total length. [emphais added]
- SR: what does it mean, and how do you do it?
- SRtog (or SR-tog): what does it mean, and how do you do it?
- Incorrect stitch count on two rows.
I’m fairly confident everyone was trying to do an excellent job and I don’t fault any of us, but I think as a pattern writer I am sometimes talking past the knitter; however, as I talk, the knitter might not actually be listening.
What We Want But Fail to Achieve
As a pattern writer I have attempted to make patterns that are clear and easy to follow. To a certain extent, I think I have done that, but I have not spoken directly to the knitters who want to make my thing to guide them through the process of digesting my pattern-writing style. Knitters may not be engaging with the actual content of patterns in a way that will allow them to follow the pattern to make the thing they want to make.
Since we both seek the same outcome–a successfully knitted thing–it is a shame that we fail to see through the other party’s eyes. I am hoping not to become discouraged by my unsuccessful communication and that I will continue to seeks ways to make my side easier to absorb from the knitter’s side of this equation.
Other Useful Information
This yarn is from Happy Fuzzy Yarn. It is really enjoyable to work with and I love using yarn that makes picking out rows easy so I can make each piece the same. The yarn is very flat due to the Tencel, but to me that makes it perfect for socks. I used size 3(3.25mm) dpns from Brittany. I like the 5.25″ length and wood makes them just sticky enough for socks. The piece on the right above has a flexible long-tail cast on toe and the piece on the left has a modified Turkish cast on toe. The FLTCO makes a ridge.
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Interested in participating in a sock test knit? Check out this thread on Ravelry for details. This section of the test knit is closed, but I would take a couple more knitters for the third piece, a toeless anklet, which will be available May 17, but it will still have June 1 deadline. In the end you will get a final copy of the pattern, and you have the opportunity to give feedback and learn new things!
Interested in a non-sock test knit? Let me know. I’ve got things coming up! Small projects, not starting until mid-June. You might like to follow the current thread for this one to see what it is like.