February 13, 2006, 9:15 p.m., phone conversation with my grandma
Me: Hi, grandma.
Grandma: So, I got my shawl.
Grandma: It is so much prettier than your mom’s.
A little background: as I was knitting Misty Morning, I would regularly send e-mails to Beth Lutz, the owner of The Alpaca Yarn Co. and the distributor of the pattern, with partial lists of the corrections. At the time, my e-mails were very matter-of-fact – I didn’t confront them about how ridiculous I found this situation until I was done.
Both women were receptive and grateful for the feedback, indicating that the corrections were incorporated into the pattern immediately. Sharon volunteered that the pattern had not been test knitted, and that it was the decision of the former owners of The Alpaca Yarn Co. (then called America’s Alpaca) to not have the pattern test-knit.
When all was said and done on February 9th, I felt I was finally in the position to assess the overall situation and e-mail Sharon and Beth a letter expressing how I felt. The actual letter was written the day I found the most ridiculous pattern mistake ever, and saved on my computer until the shawl was done, just in case my feelings didn’t change. They didn’t. You can imagine the tone of the letter.
I stated that the Misty Morning Shawl was the most mistake-ridden pattern I ever encountered, and that I found it mind-boggling that the knitter was expected to find and correct mistakes in a purchased pattern. I asked Sharon how she allowed her name to be associated with something so poorly written. I asked Beth how she allowed the former owner’s poor judgment transfer to her name.
I didn’t ask for my money back (I had knit the entire pattern), and I certainly didn’t ask for free yarn (I’m allergic to alpaca!), but considering that I purchased many other patterns from The Alpaca Yarn Company, I asked to know which of them had been test-knitted, and for the opportunity to return those which hadn’t. No more surprises! I assured Beth and Sharon that they shouldn’t worry about me photocopying the patterns prior to returning them because I now assumed that none of them were test-knitted, and thus I wouldn’t touch them with a six-foot pole.
The responses I received were incredible, in a really good way. Unlike a former situation of this sort, there was no denial that there was something wrong with the pattern, and both women were truly thankful for the time I took to write down the corrections. Beth wrote,
“I have no defense on my part for not doing a better job of knowing if the patterns that had been written and published prior to my purchasing the company were test knitted or properly graphed. … You were, the only person in a year to point out any problem in the pattern. I wish there were more people like you that did question things that don’t seem right, because we would have addressed this much sooner. … I certainly understand and will willingly give you a refund of all your money for the patterns if that is what you wish to do. It is my intention to try to contact as many purchasers of this pattern as I can and send them the corrections. … I want to commend you on your thorough understanding of this pattern and your ability to recognize mistakes that were made in the graphs. Not too many people that I know could do that. I think you would be an amazing test knitter – you are thorough and extremely knowledgeable. … My sincerest apologies & best wishes to you.”
“I am truly sorry you found it such a frustration and again I would like to thank you for taking time to write up the corrections. I will make sure all the charts are updated so the Beth can get the corrected pattern published. I have definitely learned to have everything test knit.”
The one thing Beth and Sharon didn’t tell me in their responses is which of the other shawl patterns I purchased had been test-knit. I asked again, and Beth responded,
“I would like you to keep the patterns & I will refund your money in full. … As I’ve said before, I’d rather have you be a test knitter for me than my enemy. Your satisfaction is much more important to me than the cost of those patterns. So, if in the future, if you do decide to try another, I’d welcome your input – or if you get cold and you need something to start a fire with, that’s fine too. : ) I’m doing my best to get the patterns to where they should be. If there was anyone that I could ask those questions to, they would probably still be selling yarn. Keep up the incredible work.”
I appreciate Beth’s sense of humor, but I don’t know about being a test-knitter again just for the hell of it, like, “Surprise! This hasn’t been test knit, give it a go!” Uhm, no thanks. Beth honestly doesn’t know which have been test-knit, and she alludes that this has something to do with the former owners. I would act differently in this situation, I think – right this very moment you can purchase these other patterns on the website, and even the owner doesn’t know if they’ve been test-knit. Food for thought.
Overall, I am very happy with the way the situation was resolved. I guess I was expecting defensive behavior and denial, but Beth and Sharon stepped up, admitted the undeniable, and made good on my request to get my money back for the other patterns – Beth tells me that a check in my name for the price of the patterns is on its way.