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Monday, April 25, 2016

Mini Tip Monday - How to deal with a pattern problem

You've purchased a pattern and you're knitting along when suddenly you come across a problem. What do you do? Message the designer privately through social media or Ravelry? E-mail the designer? Contact the yarn company? Pop in to your local yarn shop? Ask in your favourite online knitting forum? 

Knowing how to approach a problem will help get you a quicker response. 

So where do you go with your pattern questions? It depends on what the problem is and here's my advice. Please note that other designers may have a different opinion to me.

1. You think there may be an error in the pattern? 

I know every knitter hates an error in the pattern but unfortunately it happens. All publishers, magazines and professional designers have their patterns checked by a tech editor who checks if the pattern is correct, can be knitted as it's written, can be understood by knitters and will result in the item photographed. But we're all humans! We all make mistakes. Little things slip through. Sometimes big things slip through. Designers hate errors more than knitters do! But it happens.
  • Depending on who published the pattern, look on the designer's, yarn company's, publisher's, magazine's website and see if there's a list of errata. 
  • Many designers, including me, list errata on the Ravelry pattern page.
  • Double check your knitting and the pattern to make sure it's not you who's making a mistake. Check you've done what the pattern asks and that you've understood the pattern properly. If you read an instruction and it doesn't sound right, try actually doing it. You may find that it is actually correct and will work out.
  • If you can't find an errata on the designer's website or the Ravelry pattern page, then contact the designer via e-mail or ask in their Ravelry group if they have one.
  • Many designers are contactable via social media and Ravelry messages but most of use prefer e-mails for pattern help and questions as it makes it easier for us to keep track of what's happening.
Please do not make a statement complaining about the designer and the pattern online before you've checked that there is a problem and you've given the designer a chance to rectify the problem.

2. You don't understand how to work a stitch or a technique.
  • These days there is tons of useful information online. But be careful! Not everyone who uploads a You Tube video actually know what they're talking about! 
  • If you find a useful online source with lots of reference information, bookmark it so you can find it again easily.
  • Ask in the designer's Ravelry group or in a relevant Ravelry group (or other online forum).
  • Remember that one technique can be known by several different names.
So if you don't know how to do a Russian cast-off, it may be a waste of time to e-mail the designer because she may not be able to respond immediately. Instead, search online and check for You Tube videos.

I posted an errata re Eliza on the Ravelry pattern page 
after a knitter informed me that there were no instructions re casting off.

Here are a few other do's and dont's regarding asking for help.
  • If you've purchased a pattern or the yarn to knit it in your local yarn shop, then it's fine to ask them for help. They may be able to help you or they may suggest who you can contact. But if you've purchased the pattern and yarn online then I don't think it's appropriate to ask your local yarn shop for help. Most yarn shops are happy to help but they may be resentful if you're not a customer.
  • You've got a favourite designer or knitting teacher and you contact them for help with a pattern not designed by them because you know they're helpful and you've got their contact details. If you contact me with a question not relating to one of my patterns or workshops, I may still help you if I have time. But I'm very busy and I struggle to keep on top of my e-mails, so any questions not relating to one of my patterns will go to the bottom of the list and may not get a response at all if I'm too busy.
  • Try to find out how a designer wants to be contacted before you contact them. My Ravelry designer page states that I prefer to be e-mailed re pattern questions. I'm not on Ravelry daily. For the last 6 months I've struggled to keep up with my e-mails but I'm in the process of setting up a new system to make the process quicker and easier. I've now got a separate e-mail for customer queries ( and my aim is to respond to all e-mails within a week. I'm planning to have set days where I do certain routine tasks like responding to e-mails. I prioritise e-mails over Ravelry, Facebook or other social media messages.
Here's how to get designers to want to help you:
  • Don't be rude! You'd be amazed at some of the e-mails designers get.
  • I know e-mails are casual and that's fine but be polite. 
  • Ask if they can help you. 
  • Make sure you include as much info about your problem as possible.
  • Don't immediately assume it's a mistake in the pattern.
  • Give the designer a chance to respond. Most designers are small one person businesses and they have families and outside responsibilities. I have received e-mails during the night or at weekends with a follow up e-mail within hours if I haven't responded. 
         1. I sleep so won't respond to e-mails overnight. 
         2. I work set office hours and I have a lot to fit into those hours. 
         3. I try to take weekends & evenings off, so even if I'm posting online I won't                      respond to messages.
  • If you work out the problem and don't need help, let the designer know. Click on your original e-mail in your 'sent folder' and forward it with a note saying you no longer need help as that will help the designer connect your second e-mail to your original one. 
One of my workshops at Spin A Yarn who also hosts two knitting groups monthly.

Don't underestimate your local knitting group. There are lots of advantages to joining a local knitting group and one is that there may be people there who can help you. I am an active member of my local knitting group (Liskeard Knit & Knatter meets on Thursdays from approx 10.30 - 12.00 at Stuart House (next to the library) in Liskeard - new members are welcome) and I'm more than happy to help people and so are tall the other members in our group. 

But if you'd like help from your local knitting group, become an active member and attend regularly. Don't just turn up when you need help!

Here's my policy on dealing with pattern questions and problems.
  • If there's an error, please let me know. I want to be able to put it right and put up an errata on Raverly.
  • Check my Tutorials and Pattern Support page. I'm planning to add a frequently asked questions section.
  • If you think there's an error, check the Ravelry pattern page.
  • I prefer e-mails ( instead of Ravelry messages, Facebook messages or other social media messages.
  • Give me a week to respond. I'm busy and I have chronic health issues which means i can't spend all day on the computer. I've also got e-mail notifications turned off on my phone and tablet, otherwise I feel like I'm working 24/7.
  • I'm happy to answer questions regarding my own patterns but please do not e-mail me about general technique questions or about other designers' patterns.
  • I'm happy to help you with pattern questions or other technqiue questions in my workshops but please ask me before the class starts so I can decide when it would be best to fit it in. I usually help people at lunch-time because I'm not always able to stay on to help at the end of the class.
  • Join my Ravelry group. I'm trying to get my Ravelry group more active and to answer questions in there. It's something I'm still working on and need to improve on.
A little side note: if you love chatting in Ravelry groups, starting chat topics, help with hosting KALs, answer pattern queries - I'd love your help. I'm looking for more moderators for my Ravelry group. You'll need to be active in Ravelry groups, enjoy chatting and starting new topics. If you are familiar with some of my patterns and would be able to help answer easy questions that'd be a great help. I would need you to notify me of questions or issues I need to deal with. If you're interested please contact me (e-mail me on

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