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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!!

16 comments:

  1. I'm at a loss when it comes to knitting. I am even more loss when it comes to knitting instructions. I hope they make a de-coder for you soon so that you will be able to figure those directions out :) Cheers, Jenn

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  2. I have similar experiences with crochet patterns. It's hard to convince people to give yarn crafts a try, because they take one look at a pattern and think it looks unfathomable.

    On the other hand, they think I'm a genius just for being able to decode and complete a pot-holder! LOL :)

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  3. I have a book of very lovely counterpane patterns from around 1900. Now those are insane!

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  4. Great thoughts, Pam. As a new crocheter I'm familiar with the struggle to get used to pattern language. Fortunately I've been able to find books and online resources that explain the abbreviations, but beyond that there's often a lot that isn't clear. I haven't tried making anything circular yet, mainly because I've been confused by instructions that tell you first to chain a ring, then "crochet into the ring." I didn't understand what that last phrase meant and I've been searching through every resource I could find for a clear explanation or even (how hard would it be?) a PICTURE that shows exactly what crocheting into the ring is!

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  5. I'm a knitter, too and I have unknited many an item because I skipped a row and had to knit 4 more rows before my error showed up. grrr...I hate tinking. (knit ing backwards). I also hate when a simple pattern is made impossible for me because they can't just write it out clearly. How hard can that be? I can decipher most, but honestly, it's exhausting to have to keep looking at the pattern and double checking my rows to see if I'm in the right place.\

    Good upsetting blog! :)

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  6. I finally gave up and gave all my knitting needles to my daughter, who seems to be able to make sense of the nonsense. Crocheting is easier (at least for me), but the patterns are still no picnic. Gggrrrr.

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  7. I've enjoyed both knitting and crocheting in the past and I definitely agree with you. Sometimes, I would have to read a pattern several times before I actually understood what was going on.

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  8. I have blogged a few times about crying over my knitting and screaming about confusing knitting patterns.
    I learned to crochet and read graph patterns 30 years ago.

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  9. Knitting does have the tendency to leave a person in tears or pissed to the teeth. It is especially frustrating when you are knitting along and realize that you dropped a stitch three rows back. Although I can knit, and have followed knitting patterns I generally crochet instead. I am a lot more proficient at it. Great post. You nailed it!

    Kathy
    http://gigglingtruckerswife.blogspot.com/

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  10. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL HYSTERICAL...i needed to read this! MUAH! ok want to see a pic of your completed work ..AND the challenge for you is here. WRITE NEW INSTRUCTIONS and get paid for it!! :0)

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  11. Thanks for all the comments and sympathy for those suffering the same thing. Maybe crochet IS better. Thanks for reading.

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  12. Hey there! I'd like to give you The Versatile Blogger Award. You can get it here: http://pleasing2theeye.blogspot.com/2012/02/versatile-blogger-award.html
    Cheers!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you very much for the award, I'll be coming to get it shortly.

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  14. I know exactly what you mean. It's why I'm still stuck at "beginner" and "easy" patterns, and still sometimes have to ask friends for help!

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