The Importance of Checking for Errata and the Power of Gauge

I taught a bag finishing workshop in a little shop about two years ago. . . my students were diligently working on something so the room was quiet and I was walking around checking on what people were doing. The shop owner was looking after the shop but she had stepped out to pick up coffee or sandwiches or some such. I was the only “official” in the shop. A woman walked in with a sweater project she was working on, a lovely lacy affair out of sparkly white yarn. She stood uneasily in the doorway of the classroom. She wavered and then said quietly, “Can someone help me with this?” Her eyes pleaded. She said, “I’ve been trying this one row now for 3 hours. I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong. It doesn’t look like the picture. I’ve tried everything.” So I gave it a try. It didn’t work for me either.

“Did you check the errata page?” I asked her. By this time the shop owner had returned and took over, leading the woman to the front of the shop and searching the magazine errata page for the sweater. There was a lengthy list of the errors in the pattern . . . She copied down all the corrections and they nearly filled one side of a letter-sized piece of paper.

It is very difficult to write a pattern that is free of errors, and the more complicated the pattern, the harder it becomes, multiply by 46 and it is very nearly impossible. Thus, my book, like most every book, has some typos we all missed, and some errors that got by us, as well as some things that are not so much errors as things I want you to know–such as which yarn companies discontinued a particular yarn in the year and a half between when they gave the yarn to me for a sample and the book came out. . .  more about items in this category in a minute.

I tell you these things to make my own plea that you all make it a habit to check the errata pages of any book, magazine, pattern singlet, indie design that you are working on, preferably before you begin working. Errata may not yet have been posted, but if there are any, you will see them.

I wish I could say that there is not a single mistake in the book, but alas, I cannot . . .

There is an errata page for Noni Flowers.  I have found some things myself and also rely on you knitters to alert me to things that got by me and the rest of us who worked on the book.

A knitter just wrote to me, for example, that the English Bluebell pattern, while correct, conflicts with the sample in the picture. The picture shows a stem with 1 main flower and 4 flowers along the stalk. . . the pattern has you make 5 flowers along the stalk. I was so focused on making sure the pattern was correct I never thought to count the blossoms. None of us did.

Please check the errata page. And please let us know if you find something. This allows us to list errors and inconsistencies and change future printings. To the first person who alerts me to a particular error, I will send a thank-you gift pdf pattern.

The Power of Gauge

Just after the book was released, I was poking around on the Amazon website and noticed the first review of the book by a knitter (thank you, Lynn!). It’s a lovely, laudatory review and I was thrilled. Lynn mentioned, in particular, the two-page spread about the power of gauge. She had carefully gotten out her ruler and measured the smallest flower and the largest one, offering their heights in inches to the reader of the review to give an idea of just how much of a difference gauge can make, with the smallest flower being less than an inch tall and the largest over 8 inches tall. In other words, she interpreted the picture as showing the Stephanotis at actual size on the page.

The spread in the book does not, however, show the flowers at actual size . . . And the trio of photographs that Sully and I worked on for these pages had a foot-long ruler in every photograph to help the knitter with an accurate sense of scale. These rulers were excised by the press. While I did not object to the rulers in the first two pictures being removed, the last ruler next to the largest flower was removed against my objections. As a compensatory measure,I mistakenly thought providing the needle size and yarn choices for each flower would go some distance toward replacing the ruler(s). I see that information is not sufficient in all cases to all knitters. I present to you now the three original photographs so you can see for yourselves that the smallest flower hovers around 2 inches (5cm) tall while the largest flower is nearly three feet tall.

Aside from practical considerations and its efficiency at conveying scale, one of the reasons I love this little ruler is that it belonged to my grandmother. As you can see, it was one of those little gifts that banks give out to good customers. I have lots of things like this that belonged to her: a mechanical pencil that advertise a Charlotte NC shoe shop long gone, my grandfather’s neurosurgery practice letterhead, the beginning of my grandmother’s memoir written on the backs of checks, a list of the books of poetry she read over the course of 50 years, novels that belonged to her own mother, a tiny collection of Shakespeare’s complete works (leather bound, each one scarcely 2 inches tall). . . I would have loved to work them into the book somehow . . . the books and the bell in the Forget-me-not pillow picture were hers. . .

My thinking, for including the rulers, was that all the book designer person had to do was make the rulers the same size and then we would see that all the flowers were correctly sized in relation to one another. Yes, I suppose it might be a little distracting to see the rulers and all the more so with the advertisement for Citizens bank and the 3% interest rate, etc., but perhaps you forgive me when you know it was my Granny’s ruler. And, besides, knowing the proper size of the flower is so much more important than a little visual fuss.

The yarn companies making business decisions to discontinue a certain yarn or color without consenting me is annoying but understandable. Crystal Palace Fizz no longer has Mink in its line up, so those who want to make sunflowers with dark centers my want to choose Black as a good substitute. Also consider that some sunflowers have bright yellow centers and so you should match that yellow with a yellow Fizz. Consult pictures of actual sunflowers for ideas.

I have learned from Shibui that Silk Cloud is no longer available in Blossom, the pale pink I used for the inner petals of the Fuchsia. Rowan Kid Silk Haze does offer an almost identical color, however.

As I learn more about these sorts of changes in yarn and yarn color line-ups, I will post on the Noni Flowers errata page. Again, please check before you knit. . .

5 thoughts on “The Importance of Checking for Errata and the Power of Gauge

  1. Our favorite ice cream scoop (the one in our house that works the best) used to belong to David’s grandmother and it is from a bank in west Texas. We cherish it because of that!

    • I had a friend who was in possession of the rolling pin her grandmother had used her whole adult life. It hung on the wall by a little flour-coated string her grandmother had tied to it through the hole at the end of one handle. One day, her husband (a doctor and somewhat a germ-a-phobe because of his line of work, you know) took the rolling pin down and untied the string. . . threw it away. When my friend saw the rolling pin on the table without its string she very nearly lost her mind, yelling where is the string? where is the string? Her husband had to fish it out of the trash, she re-tied it, and there it hangs on the nail waiting for the next time it will be needed. Yes, these things mean so much. That our grandmothers and other fore-bearers held them in their hands as we do to scoop ice cream, to roll out pie dough.

  2. I own my husband’s grandma ( babushka) her own knitting needles and some of them still have the packages with prices…. ($ 0.05 )
    They are precious to me….I have them in an antique vase and became part of my decor.

    I missed babushka!

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