Sunday, August 05, 2007

In which I wing it

The Mystery Stole entitled Swan Lake.

I finished Clue 4, just two days "behind", and will be continuing with the Clue 5 pattern as written, even though it now includes a WING. (Or maybe because it contains a wing!)

Being on this group has been an education in internet manners and mores, that's for sure. I have only posted a few times, but have read nearly every one of the thousands of posts/e-mails. Most are supportive, humorous, and kind...some are clueless and ungrammatical...but some folks are just plain rude, intentionally or otherwise. (Just like in real life, I guess.)

Friday, after clue 5 and the theme were announced, someone posted that they were very disappointed and that the project had been a "waste of time and materials." The poster was immediately flamed in a rally-the-troops, knitterly kind of way. I wanted to post, but I didn't want to do it in a flaming, emotional way. Because--at first I was disappointed, too. I don't know anything about ballet--I have no emotional attachment to Swan Lake--and I had really hoped the theme would be Theseus and Ariadne. But these were MY issues, not Melanie's. There was also that bit of letdown in discovering the "answer" to a mystery. No more speculation, no more suspense; it is what it is, and it is Swan Lake.

I thought about it for a day, and then this is what I posted:

I have to admit that I, too, had a moment of thinking of setting it down...but then I thought of all I've learned so far, the fun I'm having seeing the lace grow on my needles, and of being a part of this neat community of knitters with all our varied and various backgrounds, and I decided to keep on. I've never worn a stole before, ever, and what's the difference if it has a wing or not? I can pretend to be Louis from The Trumpet of the Swan (another favorite childhood story, along with the fairy tale of the girl spinning flax for her swan brothers to break the spell). And I may become entranced with stoles and thank Melanie my whole knitting life for creating an accessible and challenging project that started me off!

I've also been doing a lot of thinking about the conversations about and around the "Disappointed" post.

I didn't want to flame the writer, because she was clearly speaking from the heart. But what bothered me, and it's taken until today for the thought to gel in a way I could express it clearly, was what seemed to be anger at Melanie, as though the design was meant to be a trick or a "gotcha!". Anyone who has been reading Melanie's posts can see she is a thoughtful, capable, creative designer who cares very much about the experience that "her knitters" are having. But even our favorite designers don't always create items we would want to knit or wear. Hanami, Scheherezade, and Leda's Dream are each lovely, and each very different, and "Swan Lake" is different still!

We need to keep providing Melanie with feedback on how the project is going for us and how we feel about this design. After all, we're a huge pool of test knitters! Constructive criticism is an artist's most valuable information.

That said, there's a big difference between providing constructive criticism and being just plain critical. Every comment we make or question we bring up as we work our way through this project is helpful to Melanie in creating her final pattern, and the vast majority of comments and questions have been helpful, interesting, and stated with kindness.

In reading the "Disappointed" post, I wasn't upset that there was a knitter who decided to set the project aside--I was upset that it was stated in a way that *seemed* like a personal attack on Melanie; it bothered me because it *seemed* discourteous, not because I thought the author should lock-step-knit her way to a stole she's not crazy about.

Aside from the tips and tricks for creating wonderful/airy/warm/winged lace, the funny/heartwarming/exciting/amazing stories (Matilda danced with both Nureyev AND Baryshnikov? I'm trembling), my most valuable takeaway from this is the 30% Nicer rule of thumb on internet communications.

1 comment:

marycatharine said...

I agree with your take on the Mystery Stole 3 situation. I was taken aback by some of the comments made by people who were being given a free pattern but also understand that it was not what people were expecting. Welcome to ravelry.