Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Preaching what I Practice

I think I finally have enough progress to show you my latest obsession:

The cables are from Viking Patterns for Knitting and I'm applying them to the edge of the Garter Stitch Jacket from Fleece Artist. I've worked through the design dilemma posed by the collar, by switching to a V-neck. I think everything will work out fine if my yarn holds out.

I just want to say that constructive criticism is welcomed! I inadvertently started a tempest in a teapot over at Mind of Winter with an unkind comment. Julia is a knitter and a spinner whom I have admired for some time and like two mature adults we have worked it out. But I understand why it is hard to give constructive criticism over the internet since you can't tell when someone is joking, or trying to be kindly. So this got me to thinking about constructive criticism.

Firstly, I don't think that criticism with out the constructive feedback is useful. I also admire The Knitting Curmugedon but I find more criticism and less that is constructive in what she has to say. On the other hand, it sometimes seems as though Marilyn is a lone voice in the wilderness when it comes to being critical of knit designs. Yes, there is You Knit What?, but those are easy marks, and besides, they've gone out of business.

Secondly, critical thinking is hard. Offering constructive feedback is harder still. Writing it clearly so that someone is not offended may be the hardest yet. So, please know that I welcome all efforts at constructive criticism and I will take them as being kindly meant. I tour many blogs and I comment on quite a few. If I leave a critical comment, please know that I am trying to be constructive, not destructive.

And now I'm done preaching my practice.


  1. I think constructive criticism is made harder by those who claim to want it, but, in fact, only want to have people agree with them. I also think it's harder for people to be honest about they think about knitting patterns and such because designers are out there reading blogs and most of us do not want to offend. Even if a pattern does frighten us.

    I like the sweater, btw. Looking foward to seeing more of it in the future.

  2. E-communication is always difficult because the tone of voice or body language of the sender is absent. Thus the typed words usually take on the reflection of the receivers mood, and experiences. I've started a few miscommunications myself, so I can relate.

    As for your sweater, I like the cable band. I'm also intrigued and can't wait to see the whole thing.

  3. Hey LM - No Worries! I agree with you on the constructive criticism. I think it's really hard to come across exactly the way you intend to in a critical comment sometimes. Like e-mail, comments just don't carry tone with them, so it's very easy to let things get out of hand. I'm glad we were able to play nice in the end. I appreciate your compliment about my blog as well, and I hope our little scuffle won't deter you from having a voice.

    I really like what you did with that cable edging - I've never played around with an edge like that before, so it will be interesting to see how it turns out.

    Best, J

  4. Luckily I have only high praise, that looks great!

  5. I think it looks beautiful!

    I agree with Jae that e-communication is more of a challenge, since facial expression and tone of voice are left out of the equation. That's why I'm a big believer in punctuation and smileys, :-), and winkies, ;-), where appropriate, in hopes they'll convey my intended tone.

  6. I also apply my own judgement to the criticisms I recieve. Everyone has an opinion, and if they can back it up with sound reasoning then it's worth considering.

    Truthfully, I'm my own worst critic. I've been trying on the sweater as I go and my husband always says "That looks great." and I don't say anything because I'm not convinced yet. I think the cables may weigh down the jacket. I'm not sure that they meld in. I think they may just look tacked on instead. This is part of the reason I didn't show the whole thing because I'm working on the theory that when it's all done it will pull together.

    And what if it doesn't? Well, lesson learned and I won't try that again!

  7. I feel like I'm watching Project Runway, getting a sneak peak at your creative process! "Make it work!" ;-)

    And speaking of designers -- did you see that Eunny is knitting your fish mittens? Way cool, huh? :-)

  8. I don't think Eunny is doing fish mittens. My impression is that she was working on a sock.

  9. Agree totally on the difficulty of getting the constructive crit across. As others have observed, without the tone of voice it can be received in completely the wrong way. I tutor students from time to time and have learned to be really positive about some aspects before suggesting where improvements could be made. But MUCH more importantly, I ADORE that cabled edging - beyond Nicky Epstein and yet! Where can I get the Viking book? (After all I SHOULD have it, shouldn't I? Much nearer to Viking-land than you are!) Wish we could meet up on this trip - maybe the next one?
    Celtic Memory Yarns

  10. Oops - I think you're right. She linked to you, which threw me off, but that does look like a sock cuff and not your lacey fish cuff, doesn't it?