Back on the needles

Montague: on the needles again

Montague: progressI’m making the pattern for Montague, the top-down chemo cap I made, and it is fun. The knitting itself isn’t remarkable, and the transcription is no fun, since it basically means turning all the winging-it and shorthand and shortcuts into something that can be replicated by another human being.

But the layout! Oh, man! It’s been a couple months since I cracked open InDesign and it feels gooood. After a year doing daily, non-features layout for a newspaper, it feels amazing to have free rein. I can use as many fonts as I like and I can indent them any way I want! I can use whatever photos I want! The number of columns of text? Up to me, dammit! It’s amazing! Not to mention, it’s InDesign on sleek, stable Mac OSX. Using (slow, quirky, unstable, frustrating, counter-intuitive) Quark XPress on (slow, quirky, unstable, frustrating) OS9 was excruciating.

I’m going to make the pattern available as a PDF, for a couple of reasons. Usually I’m all about plain text so I can decide myself how much text and color to use when I print something out, but knitting patterns are the big exception. Every time I have to print a written-out pattern from something I find online, I spend a good 20 minutes trying to puzzle out the most efficient way of doing it that won’t waste loads of paper. You’d think that the Internet’s been around long enough that we’d have figured out a reasonably smart way to print from it, but I guess not.

PDFs aren’t always much better. I was pretty disappointed when I bought a couple patterns from Rowan: The “Red Hot” sweater came with a tiny photo, with no schematic for how the pieces should be shaped and sized, and no photos of the back or side or any detailing. Grr.

Then I ordered a Stitch Diva pattern and … whoa. Beautiful. Large, good-looking photos. Easy to read. Lots of schematics and charts. Arranged to fit neatly on two pages, or on both sides of one page. Pattern name and page number at the top of each corner. Yay.

I have a couple few pet peeves about patterns:

  • No pictures. That, or pictures that don’t clearly show what the finished item looks like.
  • Leaving only a narrow margin down one side. I end up punching holes in the instructions when I put patterns like this in my pattern binder. (I’m not a fan of sheet protectors; I like to flip through multi-page patterns.) The Stitch Diva pattern was guilty of this one, but I forgive it because it got everything else right.
  • Too much whitespace. This one happens with a lot of pattern pages that look like they were saved right out of Microsoft Word, instead of put together using pro layout software. There’s all kinds of empty space on the page, and it takes way too much paper to print out. It shouldn’t take eight pages for a hat pattern.
  • Bad placement of photos. A little more obscure, but still annoying. When you’ll have a photo on the front of a page and another photo on the same place on the back of the page, the paper gets totally saturated with ink. The paper gets soggy, the ink runs and gets blurry and the page dries all warped and bubbled. Yuck. Sure, I could print the pattern out on heavy-duty paper, but that stuff’s expensive. Sure, I could print it on two sheets of paper, but dude — I’m a native Californian. We get all weird about things like wasting paper. I get mild anxiety fits when people leave the tap running, ferchrissakes.

Anyone else have any pattern peeves?