Wednesday, February 8, 2012
ARRGH! HERE'S WHAT IS UPSETTING ABOUT KNITTING INSTRUCTIONS
For GBE2 week 38, I bring in my other blog "Pirate Knitting"
A great question is "how can the average person read knitting instructions without going insane?" For my non-knitting GBE readers, let me explain a bit. There are two basic stitches in the world of knitting, the Knit stitch (K) and the Purl stitch (P) and all knitting patterns no matter how easy or complex are written on a variation of these two stitches. So, you say, how hard can it be to come up with uniform, easy to understand instructions for the many, many patterns in the knitting world, especially for the beginner? It appears that the answer to that question is: IMPOSSIBLE. Almost any knitter: beginner, intermediate or expert, will tell you that reading the average (not advanced) knitting pattern takes extreme patience and the skill of a CIA code breaker.
This topic came to mind even before the GBE prompt "upset" was announced as I was trying to decode an "easy" pattern that I have been working on for a baby sweater. I finally had to pull out my old college highlighters, as I did in law school reading statutes, and mark all over the pattern and even make notes to myself as to where the "*" ends and the next row starts up. Do remember that this is notated as an "easy" pattern!!! I have come to discover that an "easy" pattern refers to the knitter's ability to perform the basic stitches, but (unfortunately for beginners) does not refer to the ease of interpreting the foreign language that the pattern is appears to be written in. My baby sweater pattern is basic in the skill required to perform the instructions, if; in fact, one has a clue as to what the instructions are saying.
Again for you non-knitters, here is an example (for you knitters, this is made up by me): a pattern will start out simply by saying "cast on 30 stitches" or it might say "CO 30 stitches" or some really bad ones might just say "starting with 30 stitches" assuming that all knitters know that you have to cast on to start. Beginners need this to be reinforced and other knitters might just want it to be clear. Then a simple pattern for a rib stitch may say "K1, P1 across these stitches" or "do a rib stitch in K1, P1" or (one of my all time favorites) "K1, *P1, K1, repeat from * to the end of the row". Can you see how this just might be a little confusing, especially to the beginner and take note, this example is really clear compared to many instructions.
I will end this rant by saying that knitting is enjoyable and anyone can learn how to do it. However, I would just like to shout out to those who write the instructions: *GIVE US A BREAK!!! Read that from the "*" forward.
I crave comments!!