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In the age of Ravelry, in which almost every pattern designer is available through a few simple mouse-clicks (presuming they actually check their Rav-mail), is it still appropriate to review, critique, or just plain complain about a pattern?

I’m having a hell of a time understanding the final directions for my most recent project. I posted the question in the Ravelry forums, and inevitably someone asked me why I didn’t just throw the question at the designer herself.

Well… firstly, I didn’t want to pester the designer if it turned out I was simply a numbskull. Secondly, I assume she’s a very busy lady, being a professional knitwear designer and everything. And thirdly… well, it’s not exactly that it hadn’t occurred to me, but only that I dismissed the thought for the previous two reasons.

The whole experience (not understanding, seeking help, considering contacting the designer, writing about it all here) has got me wondering… if I blog honestly about the experience with the pattern, is that mean-spirited? Is it messing with someone’s livelihood and reputation? Is it in better taste to simply email my concerns to the designer? Are reviews going out of style?

I can’t decide.

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9 Comments

  1. If it were me I’d email the designer and just ask for clarification on the points you’re having issues with. Who knows, they might revise the instructions based on your feedback.

    Plus, if yo’re going to properly review it you can then say “i had some trouble, but they totally helped me when i asked!” Or the opposite, if that’s how it goes.

    • bitchnstitches
    • Posted January 5, 2009 at 01:25
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    Very reasonable. I might just go that route.

    Second question – does it change things at all if its a free pattern?

  2. I agree with Matt. It’s definitely important to let the designer know. If they’re at all serious about knitwear design, they’ll want to know when their instructions are unclear (or possibly wrong), even if it is a free pattern.
    Similarly, I think reviews are still worthwhile as long as they’re fair and useful. I guess you just have to keep in that the designer might very well read it and reply. :)

    • bitchnstitches
    • Posted January 5, 2009 at 07:28
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    I guess you just have to keep in that the designer might very well read it and reply.

    I think this is the part that scares me. Therefore, this:

    I think reviews are still worthwhile as long as they’re fair and useful.

    = very good advice :)

    • bitchnstitches
    • Posted January 5, 2009 at 07:31
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    I guess now that I think about it – part of me feels like the mistakes are so obvious, I don’t really understand why she wouldn’t have fixed them before, unless it isn’t really a high priority?

    Or, I suppose, unless everyone else who made a project from the pattern failed to communicate with her as well?

  3. It’s always a risk that someone might read it and be offended, but you know what? That’s not your problem. This is your journal: which reflects a personal space for you to express yourself and your experiences, and nothing you write here needs to be taken by anyone as either truth OR lies.
    I don’t mean this in a bad sense, but in an honest one: every blog you ever read needs to be taken with a grain of salt because you’re reading one person’s situations, thoughts and experiences when another right next to him could have had a completely different outlook.

    People get into trouble when they take blogs way, way too seriously. I’ve had people contact me and complain about how random noters in my entries talked about a photo of theirs on a site. How did they even find this shit? I have no idea – but I ignore them because it is RIDICULOUS to ask some random people on the internet you don’t know, and won’t ever meet, to not express about their opinions to each other because it hurts your precious feelings when you *go digging for it*.
    It’s akin to eavesdropping in on a coffee shop conversation, and then deciding to angrily lecture strangers about how they shouldn’t talk about topics you don’t like.

    /rant over.

    So uh… yeah, write away!

    • bitchnstitches
    • Posted January 5, 2009 at 12:27
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    Babs – thank you for that. I worry way too much, I know.

    I think that’s the thing – I want this to be my space and I want to be able to (constructively) complain about my experience if it is a negative one. I think it’s something about Ravelry that makes me feel a bit awkward about it… if you read the forums too much you’ll find that messing with someone’s livelihood is taken very seriously there.

    I clearly need to grow a backbone and not worry so much. If a professional pattern designer is going to offer up a pattern full of errors and confusing instructions, perhaps they should expect some negative criticism?

    I sent her a message asking if she would appreciate feedback. If she replies yes, I’ll let her know. Other than that, I’m going to stop worrying about it.

  4. I think there’s a big difference between a free pattern that you can easily get a hold of the designer for and a pattern from a book that, in my mind, should have been edited and knitted by several testers.

    If it’s a free pattern, I would e-mail the person and then you are free to blog about whether or not that person was helpful and cleared up your question or not, like someone mentioned above.

    • bitchnstitches
    • Posted January 6, 2009 at 23:28
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    Lina – the fine line, I suppose, is that this particular pattern is free, but the designer is published and has books for sale. So, while I don’t particularly want to gripe about a pattern bestowed so generously, it does serve as a reflection of her work, and not exactly a positive one.

    Tricky, non? I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, I suppose… I guess I just felt all that free pattern guilt and wasn’t sure if a blog is a safe place to complain anymore, lol.


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