Directions

So, I’m making a couple of small children Batman cowls. I bought a pattern. It is…not great. I mean, the cowl is terrific so far, but the kinds of things the pattern writer thinks can be left unsaid and the things I need to have said are a lot of the same things.

Like, at one point, you do this pattern where you do six double crochets, chain one, one double crochet, chain one and then repeat the whole thing. Then the next step reads “Single crochet in each double crochet.” The pattern writer also tells you how many single crochet stitches you should end up with, but, just looking at the part of the pattern I told you about–how many single crochets would you expect to have in that section? Seven, right? But no! No. In order to get the right stitch count for the single crochets, you just do the single crochets in the clump of six double crochets and ignore the lone double crochet between clumps.

Sadly, I didn’t learn from this quirk in the pattern and it came at the end of most of my work on the cape part. So, the directions for the cape walk you through how to do all of the increases and then it gets you started on the part of the cape where it’s all straight-forward and there are no increases. And then it tells you to go on until the cape is 22 inches long. And, like, sure, if your gauge is right, that will be some set amount of rows.

But in every pattern I’ve ever worked, when the pattern tells you “eh, go until it’s x inches long” instead of “work x more rows,” it’s understood that this is a good spot for customizing the project to your needs. So, I ended up closer to 24 inches, due to me having a good time with the pattern and thinking it really didn’t matter.

But then the next step wanted me to put a row of single crochet across the length of those 22 inches and end up with 122 stitches. In other words, for me to complete the next step, I needed to have however many rows would have made up 22 inches, not just somewhere in the ballpark of 22 inches of afghan.

And by now, I had the whole cape made and the triangle parts that make it look like a bat’s wing attached at the bottom and I’ll be damned if I’m going to pull the whole thing apart because you can’t write directions. So, I just figured out how to get 122 stitches across evenly spaced.

And now that I’m doing the hood part, I’m going to be extra careful about trying to anticipate how the directions might not make sense to me.

But it did get me thinking about the problems with communication. I mean, these aren’t exactly errors in the pattern. This is just me with one set of assumptions coming at directions written by someone with another set of assumptions. We have the same hobby! We like the same things! I am DELIGHTED with how cool the pattern on the cape is. We should be on the same page.

And yet, we are not.