Tuesday, June 05, 2007

On Fleece Artist and Handmaiden

I love the Fleece Artist and Handmaiden yarns. Love them to distraction. They produce beautiful yarns in tremendous colourways with interesting and innnovative fibres. Can't recommended them highly enough.

And their designs are great -- simple and elegant shapes and ideas, executed well in their variegated and multicoloured yarns. Lovely.

But I do wish they'd hire a technical editor for their patterns. They're poorly written, and I've encountered mistakes, and I believe they are doing themselves a serious misservice.

Even this latest one I'm working on, Jane, written by someone else, isn't great. There aren't any mistakes that I have found, but it's not at all "user friendly". No gauge is given, no dimensions or details for sizing. The only reason I knew which size to make was because there was a sample in my local shop that I was able to try on.

Mistakes do happen, typos creep into printed patterns. It's happened to me, I'll cheerfully admit it. But my complaint isn't about typos, it is about patterns that are misssing key information, or are too vague or brief in their instructions. I mention Jane, but this is pretty typical for their patterns. Now, it doesn't matter so much if there isn't a gauge or schematic or sizing information for a scarf, but it matters a lot for a sweater.

And their sock and mitten patterns frustrate me to no end. They suggest using 2 short circulars to work in the round -- which is fair enough, it's a technique that I know some people love and have good success with, even if it's fairly unusual. My complaint is that they give no guidance for this technique, and the pattern is written in such a way that if you wish to convert it to use DPNs or a single 12" circular, you would have difficulty. I also found out-and-out mistakes in a sock pattern of theirs from a couple of years ago -- I don't know if it's been since caught and fixed -- but if you'd never knitted a sock before, you'd have been pretty lost. And I know other knitted have been frustrated with a mitten/sock pattern kit, which is ambigious about whether it kit produces a pair of either, or a pair of both.

Their patterns are written in a very informal, almost conversational style -- which can be good for novices. And I appreciate their attempt to keep the pattern instructions concise. I know that overly long, overly detailed instructions can be intimidating.

But as any writer will tell you, it's much harder to convey precise instructions in a casual and concise style. And like cooking, your chances of success are much higher if the instructions are precise and accurate.

It is just me? Has anyone else had difficulty?

(On the topic of Jane specifically, there are a couple of adjustments I'd make to the pattern to make it easier to work. I'd highly recommend using a provisional cast-on to start, to save having to unpick your cast-on later. And I'd work the sleeves in the round, too. Even less finishing! But there are adjustments you can easily make on the fly.)


AuntieAnn said...

Hm, I just picked up the ball band from my Fleece Artist sock yarn and looked at the basic sock pattern for the first time. I had never intended to knit socks from that pattern so I didn't look at it at all. You're right, it's terrible and I can decipher it because I know how to knit socks now, but if I were new to sock-knitting and picked up this "kit" I would never be able to figure it out.

AuntieAnn said...
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Unknown said...

I agree... I am looking at the Celtic Vest pattern and am pretty lost... I have even started looking around for other patterns I could use for the yarn, or maybe designing something myself... too bad.