Sunday, May 17, 2009

about my pattern instructions

Why don't my patterns have more detailed finishing instructions?

I get a lot of emails asking for more help on finishing the toys. Usually they're from people who don't read my blog, since you all know I've written a few tutorials with useful hints (I'd like to make a few more, when I have time, especially for embroidering the face).

When I first starting writing the patterns, I assumed anyone making toys would have a few basic skills already, like seaming, simple embroidery, and how to stuff the pieces to get the best shape. These are things I'd worked out for myself while making toys as a kid, and I figured I didn't need to explain them too much. I soon learned that a little more explanation, plus a simple diagram, would help most people put the toys together without too much trouble. I also put together the tutorials for more complicated steps that many people have asked about, and I think they've been useful to you.

There's a line though: too much detail, and it seems that most people will just skip reading it and try to wing it on their own (sometimes sending me emails asking about stuff that's actually in the pattern). I can't blame them, I do the same myself sometimes! Why read all that info when you just want to have the project done? Also, I find that no matter how accurately I try to describe how I do something, most people will do it their own way, or interpret my instructions differently from how I intended. Which is great, because then your toys look like you made them, not me.*

So hopefully you can understand that my patterns have about as much detail as I think people will find useful and actually read, while leaving plenty of room for your own interpretation and creativity. That said, if you do need a help with something, I don't mind answering your questions, even if it's just to point you to the right tutorial page (although it takes me a little longer to answer emails these days).

What does bother me a little is when people ask for help to make their toys look like someone else's designs. I try very hard to make my designs uniquely my own, and any resemblance is coincidental. I avoid any particular items that are 'trademarks' of someone else's design, since there are so many other things I can make instead that are just as cute. But I know that certain toys are very popular, and many people have used my patterns to make toys that are more similar to them than to my own designs. If you want help for this, I'm sure there are people on Ravelry that will give you pattern alterations and other ideas. Please ask them for help, since I would like to devote my time to creating my own designs.

Anyway, writing diplomatically is tiring! I hope you all understand. If you have any ideas for other tutorials or hints you would like, please let me know. Now I'm going to get on with enjoying my Sunday. I hope you all have a lovely day too!

* If you do want your toys to look exactly like mine, all I can say is, read my instructions, ask questions, and keep trying until you're happy (that's what I do).


gingerspice said...

I love your patterns they are clear, concise, and i do not think they need any more added to them.
Knitting , and how you finish your toys,jumpers etc is a personal thing, amd with the internet there are more than enough resources to use for help if needed.
Let these people use ravelry etc , maybe they will be inspired to be more creative.
Keep up the lovely cuteness
Take care

Emily said...

I think your patterns are great! I've only ever had two questions (like which way to put on the owl's tail) and I've made a LOT of your animals. The pattern pictures are big and clear, and google is a great resource so what more do you need? There is a lot of room for individual interpretation - that is, for the animals to find their own character. I say, if folks manage to download your pdfs, they can certainly use a search engine to figure some things out for themselves. (I find wining annoying, so this may have come out a little more harsh than I meant.)

yeayeayeah said...

Your patterns are fine the way they are!

helen said...

I am also a beginner. So I can say, that your patterns are fool-proof. I havent had any problems, other than understanding some english.
I would also say, keep up the lovely cuteness and dont let the silly questions bother.

cagio said...

Right on~!

You guys are always so very generous and I think this was a good post to put up.

I didn't know seaming or stuffing or any of the sort just a year a ago when I tackled my first knit toy. It's tough when you don't know what you're doing but your tutorials are stellar! And - you give us such fun free patterns.

I know at some point I've asked you a question in the knitting novice arena and you got me back on track right away and pointed me in the direction of your gingersnap recipe - YUM!

Your customer service is fabulous and you don't ask much back from your customers. Plus - you're a mama! My vote is that you're patterns are great and your attitude is always fair and try not to let those folks take you away from creating such seriously cute things!

julie said...

Hi Barbara, I just wanted to say that it seems deeply unfair and rather selfish of people to ask you for help on adapting your patterns to look like others. You're a person with a lot of integrity and creativity and you don't deserve to be put in a difficult position! By the way - have a very happy birthday x