I spent an incredibly stupid amount of time fighting with my computer today in a problem that involved 16gb of garbage that couldn't be removed from my camera's SD card. It's fixed now, but it gets dark around 4:15 nowadays, so all I have to share with you in the way of pictures today is that poorly lit, oddly colored picture of my progress on stripe study. I just finished the first CC stripe and I'm in love. I might just marry it.
But, as the subject heading indicates, I have something bigger on my mind today as well. It involves a long, complicated thought process and it's not totally organized, and there are contradictions and desires pulling in opposite directions and ... how about I just lay it all out for you.
I wish we all did a bit more critiquing of knitting and crochet patterns on our blogs.
On one hand, this is a very simple desire for me. Blogs that only say nice, superficial, generic things bore the crap out of me. As a person, I tend to default to running my mouth. I have a lot of opinions. Sometimes I don't say them very nicely. Oftentimes I regret what I say or the way I said it, whether or not I always even think the thing I said is true. I frequently change my mind about people/patterns/assorted other issues, and I will freely admit to having changed my mind. I don't think we all need to stick by our opinions when we've been confronted with new information that might make us feel differently.
On the other hand, specifically when it comes to criticism of designers and their designs, it's important to remember that designers are human beings with feelings. While I tend to be a bit of an obnoxious mouth-runner, I'm also a very sensitive, soft-hearted person. While my feelings aren't always that easily hurt (more on that in a bit) the prospect of hurting someone else really, really pains me. I can't stand it. This sounds like a bit of a truism, but when I started designing I became acutely aware of the fact that designers are people. I really, really love to see the things people have made using patterns I've written. I love to see their interpretations and how they make the pattern work for them. I love seeing what they have to say about the things they make. It is constantly amazing to me that I can come up with an idea, make a thing, write instructions for making that thing, and then people can MAKE THAT THING. It's a simple joy, but I love it. But the joy I get from seeing people talk about my patterns makes me reticent to criticize the work of others. A person wrote that pattern, you know? And they have feelings. And I really, really don't want to hurt those feelings. And in the past, in order to avoid possibly hurting someone's feelings, I have held back in my discussions of some patterns, even when the way something is written or even conceived of ends up driving me to the brink of insanity - and lord knows we've all been there.
But even given the fact that writers of patterns are people with feelings, and that I would like to be nice and not hurt people's feelings, I still think there is a place on blogs for constructive critique. What constitutes constructive critique, however, probably doesn't mean the same thing to everyone. Liking or not liking someone's aesthetic isn't really good critique of a design. I see tons of things out there that I personally would neither knit/crochet nor wear, but that I think are fabulous designs. They're just not for me. And that's fine. I don't think it's right to rag on them if you just don't like them. There is a way to criticize the technical elements of a design while accounting for its overall goals and aesthetics; I don't think this is necessarily hurtful.
As far as the way a pattern is written, there are many possibilities on how to write things, and so far as the writing conforms to some standard existing out there in the world, whether or not I agree with that standard, I don't particularly feel I have the right to complain about that. Frequently things are abbreviated in a way I might not agree with, but on the other hand, space is always at a premium in patterns, and layout and space and what these things have to do with writing is by no means an issue to be taken lightly.
When it comes to errors, however, I am of two minds. As a knitter/crocheter, I know how frustrating it can be to struggle with something and then find out or figure out it is because there is a mistake in the pattern. When there are multiple mistakes I get especially angry. (This is where the mouth running comes in.) As a designer, I don't particularly mind having a mistake pointed out to me, or having someone ask me if something is a mistake. I'm a human being; I make mistakes. I have my patterns edited, but you know what - the editor is a human being as well. It happens. I appreciate being corrected in that regard, so long as it's done so nicely.
This issue of my own fallibility brings me back around to the beginning - to critique and hurt feelings. As a designer, I frequently look back at my own designs and see things I could have done better. A fair number of these things drive me crazy. So I think there's something to be said to being open to constructive critique as well. It doesn't particularly bother me to hear someone say, "I think you could have done this thing in this other way," or even "why did you do it that way?" I can always disagree, or maybe discussing whatever issue it is could lead me to see the design in a new way. Critique can lend insight.
So while there's a lot to be said for both sides of the internet etiquette issue, I still do wish we could all critique more - offering constructive criticism, and receiving it as well. At any rate, I just thought I'd put these thoughts down and maybe see we could have some discussion. Hope you're all having a lovely evening, and I'll be back tomorrow for the - GASP - last day of nablopomo.