Miranda H., who bought a skein of Berripalooza sock yarn. She will receive an official Black Bunny tote bag. (The drawing was done by able assistant, J., who didn't peek one bit. I added the names of people who'd asked for special orders that I haven't finished yet, just to be fair.)
Thanks to everyone who participated in the drawing! We'll do another one before the holidays.
Doing a blog is fascinating for a lot of reasons. One of them is the little snapshot of human nature you get from reader feedback. I am regularly gratified and surprised at the intelligent and downright nice commenters I have. I learn stuff, I see things in a different way, I chuckle at your anecdotes, I appreciate your encouragement and support.
Of course, there is a flip side to this. One of the quirks that you are quickly introduced to is the willingness of readers to take offense. My previous post apparently offended one such anonymous commenter, who found my description of Martingale models as "midwestern" to be, well, offensive. I've noticed this before, here and elsewhere, that no matter what one writes, eventually someone is going to find something to seize upon and be offended at. And my knee jerk response is to roll my eyes and think "Just read what I actually said! You're projecting!"
Wouldn't it be a more productive dialogue if the commenter had said simply "What do you mean when you describe the models as 'midwestern'?" Instead of heaving an annoyed sigh, my response would have been "Well, some of it is tangible, like the fact that they are predominantly white women of Western European or Scandinavian descent, shown in decidedly non-urban settings. Some of it is intangible, like the studiously classic styling a la Talbots." I might have even gone on to wonder whether describing Vogue as "very Manhattan" would offend New Yorkers, or saying that Rowan's models are "English country waifs" would offend slight Englishwomen who live in the country. Maybe I would have wondered whether I do, in fact, have some stereotypical notions of what midwestern women look like.
But she didn't. So I didn't.
On Book Reviews
This takes me to book reviews. I enjoy writing them, and as I've said before, I like to think I'm helping people get a better feel for whether a book is right for them before investing in it. FYI, here are some of the things I think about in reviewing a knitting book (in no particular order):
- Production quality: is it nice paper? interesting or well-done photography? all black and white or color photos (the latter show garment details more clearly)? drawings and explanatory material?
- Is it predominantly a pattern book, or an instructional book, or a mix, or essays?
- Style: floaty, or classic, ethnic inspired, folk, formal or casual, etc.
- Patterns: if I've made any of them, were they well-written? are schematics included? good photographs that show you what the finished garment looks like and any special features?
- Number of patterns included and for what kinds of garments, and for whom
- Easy, medium, hard patterns, or a mix? special techniques used, like colorwork or lace? are they fitted or flowy? boxy or shaped? Are they practical? Are they expensive to make using the specified yarn, or any suitable yarn?
- Does the book contain basic how-to-knit instructions? or does it assume the reader knows the basics? does it elaborate on any special techniques?
- Are they new patterns? or is it possible you already have some or all of them in your knitting library?
- What is the size ranges for the patterns provided?
If there are other things you would be interested in me adding to book reviews, drop me a comment.
On sizes and hostility
One of things I often comment upon about a book is the size range of the patterns that it contains. I think that knowing whether the patterns are likely to fit you can be an important thing for many potential purchasers to consider. If you've got a limited budget for knitting books, and you like to follow patterns instead of designing your own, why buy a book filled with patterns that won't fit you?
When I mention limited size ranges, I invariably get two types of comments or emails. One is "why should a publisher have to provide sizes for everyone in the world?" I don't think every book needs to have patterns that fit every person on this planet: that would be impossible, and expensive. But I do think it's odd when a book has an extremely limited size range. It seems to me that if you are publishing a book, you'd want to attract as many purchasers as possible. Excluding a significant proportion of sizes makes it less likely that you'll attract people who fall outside your size range, and therefore constricts the pool of potential purchasers. (Maybe your book is such wonderful eye candy it won't matter, or contains instructional techniques that go beyond the patterns. Maybe not.) And if a particular size is, statistically, the most common one among American women*, then it strikes me as odd that a book would stop short of this size.
The second type of remark was typifed by the commenter (Anonymous, of course. I'm really getting to hate that bitch Anonymous. She's always stirring up trouble.) who basically said that Americans are fat and eat too much, so tough crap if they can't fit into patterns. First of all, this assumes too much. Not all women who wear above a size 10 are overweight. They may be tall, or have a larger-than-average frame (what my mother calls "big-boned"), or they may have very muscular or broad shoulders, or God (or the local plastic surgeon) may have bestowed them with big tits.
But what is even more fascinating about this kind of comment is the hostility that underlies it. There seems to be an almost vindictive attitude: if you're fat, you have no business knitting these patterns. If you're overweight, you should be at the gym or puking in the toilet instead of sitting on your fat ass knitting. Plump people don't deserve to wear floaty romantic Rowan patterns: let them wear boxy sacks instead. Whassup widdat?
Feel free to discuss. And make sure you tell me if I've offended you.
*And, Brits, too. My Google search uncovered an extensive survey of UK women showing that their average bust size is 38.5 inches, with 40.5 inch hips.