Articles, those unsung heroes

First of all, I’m very flattered by the attention and compliments paid to Eris. Thank you very much. I’m finishing up a short sleeve version in cotton ribbon, and I’m going to write up an entry about how this particular design came to be (and how it was prevented from becoming a poncho caplet, I mean capelet), once I’ve finished with the photos.

For now, a gripe. You know what’s great about knitting magazines? Articles. And I’m not saying that just because I write some of them. (You can skip reading mine if you want–I’m, er, rather verbose). People have written articles for Knitty on picking up stitches, turning graphics into knitting charts, short rows, reading lace charts, grafting, fulling, you name it. And you can probably find it by using the Google search bar on the Knitty archives page.

But not enough people are reading them, apparently, because the Knittyboard yields questions from (what I assume are) Knitty readers about picking up and creating charts for intarsia… when that information was under their nose last season.

So… do the majority of knitting-magazine-reading knitters ignore articles in favour of the patterns? Or just the majority of knitting-magazine-reading knitters who post to mailing lists or forums? Do they read the articles, then promptly forget them? Or are they reading them and retaining the information for a reasonable period of time, while I suffer from an abnormally long memory?

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20 Responses to Articles, those unsung heroes

  1. Michelle says:

    I think there’s alot of reasons for this. One, I agree with many of the others posting to this comment that some people, in general, are being lazy. It takes time and mental energy to read an article, and for some, it meets their needs to jsut ask on the knittyboard. For others, (me included in this subset) the articles may not be relevant to them at the time that they are published. Bombarded by way too much information that must be managed and stored, these types of people forget that resource exists when they do encounter a knitting problem. Other people need the “human touch” that a direct answer supplies, even if it’s just a post on a message board. Generally, I think these people are “social learners”; they learn by doing with, rather than reading from.
    Yadda yadda yadda……I’ve studied way too much adult learning theory. I’ll go knit now.

  2. J Strizzy says:

    Perhaps people are indeed searching Knitty’s articles when they have technique questions. In which case they have no need to post in the forum to ask their questions, so they’re not the ones posting. Maybe if NObody were using the articles there would be even more posts asking questions that are answered in articles.

  3. Brenda says:

    I think it’s less about laziness and more about how people learn. People learn by doing, and also by getting help at the time of failure. Reading articles usually doesn’t facilitate either of those methods. Unless, of course, someone considers the articles archive a resource for help when they get stuck. Which apparently Knitty readers aren’t doing. Maybe the Knitty board moderators should familiarize themselves with the articles that have been published and link to them when people have questions that have been addressed in the articles.

  4. lisa says:

    I suppose I must be in the minority, because I read all the Knitty articals (even ones that don’t particularly interest me) before I even look at the patterns.

    And I nearly always buy Cast On for the articals, because even though there are very few – if any – patterns that interest me, I know one of the articles will come in super handy.

    Although, I think Knitty could help its self out by having a better search function. I’d love to see the site run through a CMS like Drupal, so that it’s really easy to search the database.

  5. Nell says:

    i love the articles in knitting magazines. in fact i prefer most of the articles to most of the patterns. however i do not like reading long articles on the computer, so i usually print them out to read – and that makes alot of printing.

    so, this is one reader who likes and reads magazines for the articles. as for why the dumb or obvious questions – who knows?

  6. Lainey says:

    I just made the big jump off patterns over the last year. I used to be a big pattern junky. I think it was lack of confidence. Now I really like articles and stich patterns; I just look at full patterns for bits I can use. So maybe you should think of most of the posting board spewers as timid knitters in transistion and it won’t hack you off quite so badly.
    And I feel like for the sake of full disclosure I should admit that I am not designign anything right now, I am knitting clapotis. Holy crap it rocks.

  7. Mara says:

    I agree with comment #2. I’m busy, I forget that Knitty has articles (though I’ve read, and printed out, a number of them). I do try not to ask dumb questions on lists, though.

    Perhaps Knitty could put up a more prominent link to the how-to section. Maybe I’ll put up some links to their articles from my own website…

  8. JoVE says:

    I do read Knitty articles and have used the site specific Google search to find them again when I have a specific use for them (and yes, your articles on sleeves are amont those I have used — very helpful). Perhaps it would help if the articles were indexed in the same way old patterns are though. Or at least he ones on techniques.

    I don’t use the knitty boards though. I have a handful of blogs I read and one list I belong to. Both are helpful but not overrun by people asking simple questions.

  9. monika says:

    I think it says more about the message board (or about all message boards) than about knitty’s readers in general. And if the same question is being asked over and over, it reflects on the moderators – they need to combine threads more to make it more manageable and easier to search and overlook.

  10. nod says:

    Well, as someone who still buys INKnitters, I can say that some of us DO read the articles. (I certainly don’t buy THAT magazine for the patterns). I think there is a large segment of knitting society who would rather have someone tell them what to do rather than figure it out or research it themselves.

  11. Jo says:

    Personally I have gained far more from Knitty’s articles than the patterns. The article on grafting – OMG I cannot count the times I have read and used it. Your article on getting the right fit from this spring has also been particularly useful.

    I think in general some people feel that they will get a “better” answer by asking another human being directly (in person or on the boards) while others, such as myself, believe they will get the best information from a formally published article. It probably depends on the situation which approach is best, but give me Knitty articles over bulletin board answers any day. It’s when people would rather ask questions on a bulletin board about their health than read a peer review article from a medical journal that I get really scared.

    BTW the JS aran tweed problem I emailed you about recently has turned into a complete disaster and I have ended up abandoning my plans to knit Rogue this year.

  12. Pumpkinseed says:

    I think people forget. Or didn’t know in the first place. I’m not sure all of the people find Knittyboard through Knitty.
    So much talk is about the patterns and not about the articles. Maybe we need to mention them more. Are they mentioned under the resources for newbie sticky?

  13. Jan Tucker says:

    Took me a long time to realize that Knitty HAS articles–I think I finally realized it by being directed to a couple–now it is the first thing I look for, and save for future reference. The articles collection is slowly building into a really good knitting techniques notebook–something that otherwise doesn’t exist! The articles don’t “pop” out like the patterns do . . .

  14. Amy says:

    Call me crazy, but I read the articles before I look at the patterns! I think people who ask questions when the answers are right there just would rather have someone tell them how to do it instead of doing a little research. Not my style, but to each his (her?) own.

  15. zib says:

    OOOOoooOOh one of my major peeves w/ the board users. Not using the Knitty search, the board search or checking the FAQs. What’s even more amazing are those that actually admit “I’m too lazy to look it up” i.e “my time is waaaaay more important than yours so just tell me already..but then I’m a google junkie so perhaps I’m biased.

  16. Shana says:

    Oops – forgot the first part! I actually find that I’m less interested in the patterns and more interested in the technique articles, especially re: Knitty. The patterns are a little…funky sometimes, for my taste, but I find the articles invaluable. Same with IK, lately. I’m in that intermediate-knitter stage, where I’m having a lot of fun learning a bunch of new techniques and branching out.

  17. Shana says:

    Yup, people are lazy. Beginners can be nervous and a little unsure of themselves, and for some people it’s quicker and easier to just ask, and let someone else do the work. Personally, I have issues with looking dumb in public, so I’ll usually search everywhere possible, including books, articles, and old posts on current forum before asking a question – especially a technique question, as those are usually the ones that have already been asked and answered.

    Great blog, BTW. Never commented before, but really enjoy reading. :)

  18. Janice in Ga says:

    I look at articles in knitting magazines, but honestly, I don’t read them closely unless they touch on a subject I’m interested in at the time. I try to set a flag in my memory that there was (for example) an article about Twisted German Cast-on or something like that in Knitters, so I can go back and look for it at need.

  19. Arlette says:

    Regarding not reading articles:

    The biggest thing I run into is that people are busy and don’t learn much about their resources — so if they remember Knitty as a place for patterns, they’re never going to remember that it has articles, and they’re never going to read them.

    Also, it isn’t easy to find Knitty articles, especially archive ones, from the site itself. I use Google’s site-specific search, but Lord knows I’m in the minority on that one. And people are lazy or busy — if they can post in a forum and have people give them the information they need instead of digging it out on their own, they will.

    Not to be too cynical, but there’s also human nature. People are lazy. Most of them like things with pictures. And most of them don’t like to learn. There are interested knitters out there who like to learn and be challenged — but a whole lot more can’t or *won’t* learn new knitting skills and techniques until they absolutely have to.

  20. Katherine says:

    I think people might be a bit lazy and would rather just make a post asking for help than doing a little work and trying to figure out for themselves first.