MKG Cable Gram - Volume 20, Number 4
I don't know whether it's the rush to turn out more and more knitting books and patterns to meet current demand, or a shortage of good editors; but I do know that mistakes in patterns are epidemic. As a designer, I understand how hard it is to write an error-free pattern. Other designers have told me how they are plagued with those little mistakes that slip through the cracks - either caused by their own "oops" moments or by publisher errors.
To cut designers some slack, it's helpful to consider that designers know the pattern by heart or intuition. When transcribing the physical creation to specific text instructions, the details can go mysteriously running off into oblivion. To cut publishers some slack, there are a lot of details to double-check in just the physical production of the patterns so publishers might make their own unintentional mistakes in the text in the rush to get the final product to the marketplace.
But as knitters, our tendency is to want to believe what we are reading. When the instructions just don't add up, we first think: "What am I doing wrong?" After several attempts to "make" the pattern work out, we end up realizing that it's not our fault. So we, not so calmly, go across the room to pick up the remnants of the project that we threw in frustration and make a pledge to never knit a project from that designer or publisher EVER AGAIN!! Well, if that were true, we would shortly go through all the designers and publishers in the world!
This is where a good understanding of how to get errata comes in. Errata, a list of errors with their corrections, are the knitter's true friends. In fact, it's a good idea to scope out whether your project has any errata PRIOR to beginning the project - even prior to purchasing any materials since mistakes can exist in the materials list.
You can contact the pattern publisher by writing or phone, but the best and easiest way to get up-to-date errata is through a computer and the Internet. A Google(r) search for "knitting errata" will bring up 17,500 sites! Unless you're on a deserted island with Internet access and nothing else to do but wade through the sites, your best bet to get specific pattern errata is by entering the actual name of the book, pattern, or publisher. Being as specific as possible will get you the most accurate "hits" (search results). If there is no official errata written for your pattern and there is an obvious mistake, you will probably find a blog or forum that discusses the mistake. Just do a search for the pattern name and see what comes up. We knitters are a dedicated group of troubleshooters and are extremely willing to get the word out to help others. Kudos to us! In fact, here's a link to a site that has collected lots of errata links (thanks Judy Austin!): http://web.archive.org/web/20040209092429/www.knittingpages.com/Knitting_Errata.htm
If you don't have access to a computer, just visit your local library and ask the staff to help you do a search. Digging for errata is easy and takes very little time - especially compared to the time wasted in ripping out the mistake!
So gather your errata while ye may - ‘cause errata do matta!
Put the word "errata" before the name of the book, pattern, or designer name and you will get more accurate hits. Also include the name of the publisher, author or designer.
Here's an example of different search methods to gather errata for Folk Socks by Nancy Bush...
Entry: Errata for Folk Socks Hits: 594 (listing including references to more than the Folk Sock book)
Entry: Errata for Folk Socks by Nancy Bush Hits: 163 (listing much more specific to the book)
Hot Web Tips
If you can rip (oops! sorry!) yourself away from your knitting for a few moments, here are some websites that will help feed your habit.
Printable color labels for hand-knit Christmas items:
Sites with free patterns:
www.adriafil.com - the online magazine has pdf files of free patterns.
www.viv.dk - Vivian Hoxbro's website
www.knittingnow.com - online presence of independent knitting newsletter.
Tell non-knitters (you must know some!) to order your Christmas presents from:
www.knittingtogo.com - self-contained projects that include gorgeous handmade needles.