Sunday, January 06, 2008

An Open Letter to Designers and Publishers of Knitting Patterns.

Dear Designers and Publishers,

Is a serious system of peer review too much to ask for?

Now granted, I write to you as someone most familiar with academic publishing, where peer review is a crucial part of the process. So perhaps I am spoiled. But seriously: peer review has something to offer.

Recently I started on a sweater, following a pattern published by a very well respected yarn company. It seemed like a very straight-forward pattern, and I was excited at the prospect of an easy and fairly quick stockinette-o-rama that I could work on while watching TV. And I was excited at the prospect of something new and fun to wear before horribly long.

Trouble is, there was an error in the pattern, and it took me a bit of knitting to realize that the math was not working out. Once I had confirmed that there was no way that the pattern could work mathematically, I went online and found that, sure enough, there was a pattern correction on the company's website.

Now here is the thing: there is no way to know this unless you check online before starting every single published pattern.

And pattern corrections seem to be just par for the course, such that pretty much any knitting book has several corrections posted at its publisher's website.

Peer review would solve this problem--or at least seriously reduce it. If every pattern were knitted by two blind reviewers before it was published, then these mistakes would be found before the darned thing was published, instead of after, thereby saving everyone a lot of headaches.

So seriously: consider it.

Yours sincerely,
Isis, knitter

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