This blog post has been sitting since January, waiting for me to hit the publish button. Why didn't I publish it? Well, I felt I needed to step away before releasing this out into the world. This past holiday season was so busy and I spent more time answering messages than I did knitting or designing, which I'm happy to do.. except for a couple of messages that lingered and left a bad taste, prompting this post. I sat on this for a while, but then it happened again, through an Etsy purchase. So now I am revisiting this because I think it's worth the post.
As a knitter, I sometimes have questions and don't know where to turn when it's a pattern released by a company or yarn brand. Who provides the pattern support? Do you contact the company support or the designer? Do you even get an answer back?
As an independent designer, I get messages of all sorts. During busy season, these are often questions regarding pattern sizing, availability, material sources, etc.
I've been there, both sides. I wanted to answer some of the more common questions I get and share some perhaps unpopular personal opinions. The questions and answers get more intense further along, so take it with a grain of salt.
First and foremost - PLEASE BE COURTEOUS.
I cannot stress this enough. Sometimes trying a new pattern or a new stitch can be challenging, but that is no excuse to be rude. Knitting takes patience, common sense, and the willingness to learn something new. It's ok to frog your work and practice the stitches. Keep in mind that a ton of time has been put into creating every pattern - from the idea to knitting to writing to photography to testing to publishing. It's a lot of hard work that people never see.
Just remember: You'll catch more flies with honey than vinegar!
Q: Are your patterns for sale? Where can I purchase your patterns/ I can't find your pattern?
A: There are many places where people can purchase patterns. For me, I have a Linktree on my Instagram bio that gives you all of my links. You can also find my patterns on Ravelry and this is the most comprehensive collection. Most of my patterns are also on Payhip or Lovecrafts. Of course we can't leave out Etsy, right? (I have stopped updating my Etsy shop since the end of February, not due to the fee increase, but many other reasons.) Some also have individual websites to sell their patterns, so try typing in the pattern name in a search engine. Make sure you have the correct pattern name though!
Q: Where do you prefer us purchase your patterns from?
A: I love this question! It makes me so grateful when someone takes the time to ask me what platform I prefer. For me, right now, it is Ravelry. Every platform has its strengths and weaknesses, and Ravelry is no exception. I do not hang out on the forums there, for many reasons,and I try not to look at the ratings on patterns either because there is usually no rhyme or reason to them. It's also not the best way to send me questions. However, I love their library function for storing and organizing patterns. It's also great for sending updates to patterns - one click! (FYI: Etsy does not allow for this, and honestly, is pretty poor for digital support.)
Q: Do you sell your finished products?
A: Yep! Some are listed on my website. Many also post on their Instagram feed or use Facebook to sell their products. I have a shop that is viewable on Instagram as well.
Q: Where do you get your poms?
A: While fur sources may be more protected by pom makers, most of us don't mind sharing where we purchase our poms from. If you are on Instagram, many of us tag the pom makers in the caption or on the photo itself. There are many pom makers if you just search around and way too many to list here. If there's one you really love and there isn't a tag, just ask!
Q: I didn't get a download link - when are you going to send the pattern(s)?
A: Easiest answer? I'm not.
This is THE MOST COMMON question I got on Etsy, and probably the most common one sellers of digital products receive there.
All files and PDFs are uploaded to the platform, whether it's Ravelry, Etsy, LoveCrafts, Payhip, or most other sites that allow this. This provides you with the instant download option. If an instant download isn't available, the listing will usually tell you this as well. First, make sure you are signed in using the email you purchased from. Second, make sure you check your SPAM and junk folders. Third, the download links and receipts are not sent by sellers. These are sent by Ravelry, Etsy, Payhip, or whatever platform. Most of us don't like to be tied to a computer to send digital pattern files, so it doesn't make sense for an instant download to be emailed by us, right? Lastly, on Etsy especially, check your purchase history to see if you can access the file.
On Ravelry, the pattern should end up in your library (if you have an account and were signed in to purchase).
On Etsy, the information on how to download a digital file is included in every single digital listing under "DELIVERY." An Instant Download is available once payment has been processed and will show up in your purchase history. It's important to note that you must use a desktop or laptop, not the Etsy app, to view and download your digital files. This is a known issue with the app for years. As of this post's publication date, this issue still hasn't been fixed.
If you truly need a copy emailed because of something outside of the above, you still need to provide us enough information to verify your purchase: pattern name, where you purchased it, order number, and the email/ username you purchased with. Please refrain from asking if a pattern can be sent to a different email address though - it just puts us in a difficult place to verify that it's still you.
Q: A pattern was updated - how can I get the updated version?
A: Easy peasy on Ravelry! Updates to all buyers can be easily sent all at once and you'll see a link to update your pattern the next time you check your library.
For everything else, you will need to provide an order number or transaction number along with the email you used to purchase. Please email this information over any other method because we can check the sales history and reply to the email with an attachment!
Q: Can you send me the pattern in "insert different languauge?"
A: Nope. Sorry guys.. all of my patterns are in English and stated as such on sites such as Ravelry and LoveCrafts because there is a specific section to choose languages. Would I consider having them translated? Perhaps in the future, but right now I do not have a decent way to do that.
Q: What do you categorize this yarn as? Bulky or light bulky? Worsted or aran?
A: With so many varieties of yarns now, there are many variations within each weight group as well. My best answer is to compare and gauge swatch. (Refer to this post for what I mean, using super bulky yarns as a reference.) The more yarns you feel, the better you will be able to compare. You can also use a wrap-per-inch tool to help you categorize the yarn as well. Another good place to look for suggestions is Yarn Sub but your own experience will be a better gauge for you.
Of course, you can also reach out to the designer for suggestions, but I will always refer you to the above to start. Don't be afraid to try something and see if it works out - just be willing to frog.
Q: Can I get help resizing a pattern?
A: This would depend on the designer, but I am happy to help if I can for my own patterns.
An important note: Please approach the designer of the pattern first for the best and most helpful information possible. Don't ask another designer to help you resize someone else's pattern.
For the most part, since my patterns are mainly accessories, they can be resized by changing the number of repeats or the needle size. This information is usually included in the patterns. I am better able to provide suggestions if you let me know what you're trying to do. Some patterns lend well to resizing while others do not, so it is always important to give the following information: Pattern name, yarn weight (yarn is also helpful), resizing larger or smaller (age is helpful, but a head circumference is even better), and your typical gauge with your materials. For head measurements, there are charts and tables readily available that you can find online to help you with length and circumference as well.
Another note: If you don't gauge, please don't blame the designers for making a pattern that doesn't fit you. Not everyone knits with the same tension or uses the same yarns, which will affect the fit. Adjust your needle size or the number of repeats rather than leaving a poor review for patterns that have been thoroughly tested and work.
Q: Can I get help or clarification about a pattern?
A: Yes, of course! This is part of pattern support when you purchase a pattern (in my opinion). It always surprises me when someone tells me "I didn't know I could contact you." By all means, if you have a question about a pattern, please ask! This is why I include contact information on my patterns. On the other hand, please do not use designers as knitting instructors. There are a lot of blogs and video tutorials on the internet that will help you learn the basics, such as types of needles, basic abbreviations for stitches, etc. and if you have a local yarn store you can visit, they can be tremendously helpful as well and often offer classes for techniques and patterns!
Also, most designers will specify how to best contact them. I personally prefer email - I get quite a few messages and email is the best way to ensure that you get an answer in a reasonable amount of time. I will always answer, but give me time to do so. I would rather have you ask a question and have the pattern click than have you struggle repeatedly through something that is potentially very simple.
The approach: DO NOT berate or attack the designer. Period.
Please be courteous. Most of the time I get very nice messages about patterns and simple questions to answer. Sometimes I get a "thank you for your help." Occasionally I get a proud photo of the finished product and that is the best. But once in a while I get a message that starts out fairly benign and by the end it's like the person is spitting fire. Those aren't fun.
Make sure to provide the pattern name, the yarn weight you are using, and state exactly what your question is or what you are having trouble with. Descriptions are helpful and sometimes a photo will help too. The less we have to guess at, the easier it will be for us to help you.
Additionally: When you feel frustrated because something doesn't seem to be working right, set it aside and come back to it with fresh eyes before criticizing the pattern and/ or the designer. Sometimes that's all you need - to go back and read all of the instructions again slowly. If you are still having trouble, then reach out and say something like "I don't quite understand how to do this, can you help me please?" Something to that effect is much more palatable than a complaint.
From my perspective, and this may be an unpopular opinion, saying that a pattern is frustrating or that you are frustrated by a pattern implies that the pattern is the problem. Most of us put patterns through a full testing phase before publishing (I always do). There simply isn't a way to make every single person happy, no matter how a pattern is written. Designers have to decide what works for them. (For instance, I have had people wanting me to change my formatting and order of presentation, and it affects the entire flow of the pattern as I see it. It has to make sense to ME since I am the one providing pattern support.) Remember that we are all at different stages of knitting and experience, and that years of knitting experience does not equate to a specific level of knitting. There is never a need to verbally attack anyone over frustration.
Q: Do you have a video tutorial for this stitch?
A: I get this question a LOT. While many people make videos, I do not. I will provide links when I can and if something needs more explanation, I will make a photo tutorial. I always strive to make them clear with written instructions to pair with the photos as well. I have found that many still print the patterns and a majority of patterns do not need further explanations with photos. Please refrain from asking for a video before trying out the stitch using photos, one step at a time, following the written captions with them.
* Here's another unpopular opinion: My thought on video tutorials is against the majority frame of mind these days. I think we rely too much on technology for things like this. Looking at old knitting and crochet books, these are mainly illustrated rather than actual photos. The ability for mass videos didn't even exist. Even today, the Vogue Knitting books are illustrated! I think it's important to keep our critical thinking skills sharp and not rely on videos for everything.
Q: The tutorial links don't work - what do I do?
A: Ok, see? This is why I prefer photos when I can get away with them. I've literally had people "yell" at me over links that "don't work," followed by "what a waste of money." When someone tells me that a link doesn't work, the first thing I do is check it myself. Then I will reply with the same exact link that they can click, cut and pasted from the pattern, and 99% of the time I hear nothing back, because the links work. To date, I have found that every single link works. Sometimes the URL is typed wrong, such as using a specific YouTube link. (It's actually "youtu.be" in front of whatever video link it is.) I've also been told that certain apps don't let you click links within patterns, so it looks like they aren't functional when they really are. Best bet? Try clicking the link using a laptop or desktop.
This is far from a comprehensive list of what I get in messages, but it's a start. Bottomline is to just remember that there is a real person behind the scenes answering these emails and questions. Most of us do not have a team managing social media or pattern support.
So just be courteous and kind as you start typing those messages, yes?
What a good post. Through pattern writing, teaching, test knitting and so on, I have had to ask AND answer questions. There’s always time for good manners and respect. I agree with you, pattern purchases should come with support, and I encourage frustrated knitters to keep in mind that designers never purposely publish mistakes. It’s not vindictive! We’re all human. :)