Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Players gonna play, ballers gonna ball.

You know what? It's been a tough couple of months. We finally said goodbye to our sick kitty at the end of April (see previous post), I've been making little headway on my dissertation, my Myrtle cardigan went through the wash and came out with a gaping hole that seems to have unraveled from a dropped stitch...


And the cherry on top of the dog-poop sundae? This weekend saw the return, once again, of some dissatisfied customers who periodically post nasty comments about one of my patterns on Ravelry. Now, I know I'm not perfect, and neither are my patterns--errors, omissions, and just plain bad writing can and will make it through even the most rigorous tech-editing and test-knitting protocols, and this was an early release for me, so my protocols weren't the best then--but I make an effort. And these are people A) whom I did make an honest and strenuous effort to assist, B) most of whose problems I was unable to replicate myself, and C) to whom I not only apologized, repeatedly and sincerely, and gave a full refund of their purchase price, but ALSO offered their choice of a different pattern from my own store, or any pattern from their own Ravelry queue, as a gift, by way of apology for the inconvenience.

A reasonable person might consider our business concluded with that refund. But still, going on two years after their initial complaint to me, a couple of them will periodically log on to Ravelry and post afresh on the pattern page, calling the pattern unworkable and me unethical, a fraud, an unhelpful person, etc. I delete these comments as soon as I'm notified about them, which only seems to make them angrier. The content of the comments now has as much to do with the fact that I deleted their previous comments (and am therefore unscrupulous, amoral, and foolishly loath to peacefully accept their well-intended defamation) as it does with the fact that they had trouble knitting the pattern. (I should note, and you'll have to take my word for it, that these are the only comments I've ever deleted from a pattern page.) For what it's worth, I'll respond personally or publicly (depending on the situation) to Ravelry forum posts that are critical in nature. I'll even reach out to someone personally if their project notes indicate that they encountered a problem or error that they didn't convey to me directly, thanking them for the heads-up and letting them know if, for instance, a new version has been released with a corresponding correction. But my very strong feeling is that I'm not morally obliged to allow anyone to defame me in my own (virtual) store, and no unhappy customer is morally obliged to tell all potential purchasers of the pattern know they had issues with it and/or me. Especially after they've gotten their money back! Or, to put it most succinctly:

Embroidery project
One reason this phrase has such power is that it speaks to the fundamental vulnerability required of everyone who does something creative. If you publish, perform, work collaboratively or in teams, or otherwise live out loud, you're inevitably going to hear from some haters. Much as I'd like to say I've learned to rise above it like Princess Pony galloping across the rainbow to Glittertown, that vulnerability can be really crippling. The haters speak much louder than the lovers in the ol' interior monologue, even though the lovers almost always outnumber the haters.

Worse yet, the hate of the haters is infectious. A very talented friend recently asked me about starting to publish her own designs, and the first draft of my response to her was a real shit sandwich: Your ideas are great! You should definitely give publishing them a try! People are going to be totally crappy to you, of course, and you'll spend most of your time dealing with inane tech-support questions, especially for the patterns you give away for free, and still other people will pretend the Internet exists solely so they can revive the petty tyrannies of middle school and make fun of you for making your own clothes. But totally, you should put your beautiful and inspired work out there!' It'll be super-fulfilling, except for when it makes you want to die inside! Although I think I managed to make it somewhat more encouraging of her wonderful talent and potential, and much less about my personal experiences and insecurities, I'm ashamed of how much of the latter made it into the final response that I eventually did send her.

So do me a favor, everyone out there: While I take crochet hook in hand and set to mending my messed-up Myrtle, take a minute today to send someone--whether you know them or not--a wholly positive, wholly unsolicited compliment on their creative work. Or write a nice thank-you note to someone. Give a penny instead of taking one (or instead of putting your two cents in, if they're two picky cents). Above all, don't hate! There's already plenty of that going around.


Cricket said...

I love your patterns. Stay strong, I smile as I say this because there have been more days crying over the craft I love than crafting. Your talent will shine, I'm sure of it because unlike those that can't forgive and forget you have a heart.
You did all you could do and we see the honor in you determination to do right.
Knit on!

Brenda said...

The BS you designers have to put up with is beyond me. So sorry. But you're right...haters gonna hate and more importantly, there are far more lovers out there!!

Stitched Together said...

It's easy to forget that crafters are human too, we have so many great experiences with the online crafting community that it is easy to expect support and understanding from our fellow crafters. So when a negative person crashes into your online life it hurts to much more than if it was in an office environment, where you could slam down the phone and shout "ARSE" at the caller after they have gone. Ravelry is our safe place so when it is crashed into by haters it hurts so much more. I hope that the lovely comments you get today will remind you that it is worth all the torment.

Steven said...

Gabg in there, Snowden. Sorry about all the lemons, but you know what to do with those. Something tells me these people wouldn't be so in your face if they actually had to comment to your face. I'm going to take you up in your compliment suggestion right away.

Heh. Poop sundae...

FriendlyFossil said...

Snowden, just remember that in spite of the negative comments about difficulties in knitting one or more of your designs by people who refuse to recognize a more than reasonable effort to satisfy your customers, there are others who really like your designs. I have admired and "favorited" several of your designs, and often return to them as I look for my next project, I have yet to knit any of them. Rest assured, however, that when I find the right yarn (after I have finished knitting my stash), your designs will definitely be in the lineup.

Whatzitknitz said...

you have many beautiful designs.
I know its hard to write directions and be clear. I have done a little testing and there have been patterns that took a lot of back and forth and rewording before it was considered publish-able. I have written just a few toy patterns and I worry over every little thing. from too many pictures to show how to do something to not enough pictures.
I say do the best you can and then try to let it go. fortunately the problems come from one group so maybe the person teaching the group is teaching the techniques wrong and that is why it is limited to one group.
maybe it would help put the pattern in one of the test group forums at ravelry and see if the testers come up with problems or maybe have ideas to help reword confusing parts.

Gemma Scott said...

I remain in awe of your amazing creative and intellectual work! I love your smart responses and your kind and generous attempts to help people who clearly come to poop on you because, for whatever reason, they can't help themselves! And I am impressed by your ability to produce real, original, hand made crafts, in the dark(!), in one freaking day(!), such as this adorable fuzzy polar bear I am snuggling with right now.
Your fan, Gemma

Brought Up By Wolves said...

Love strictly as an energy field, as measured by David R. Hawkins, is far, far stronger than any negative energy.
You are an inspiration to many people at many levels. The lower chakra folks will have to fend for themselves.

Caroline Duncan said...


I have loved "Hill Country" for quite some time now.
I favourites this pattern in January 2011 on Ravelry.

I have been waiting to lose some excess weight before I begin knitting so I will look slinky dink when wearing.

After revisiting the pattern and researching Shelter yarn, I thought I would pop on over and check out your blog.

Feeling very disheartened by your last blog post in regards to hateful comments.

Some people are just "shit".

The lengths you have gone to (refund etc) and apologies are indulgently adequate, for anyone to say otherwise, well, they are just "shit".

So, even though I haven't attempted your pattern yet, I just wanted to say I think your designs are gorgeous and you just can't please everyone all of the time.

Approaching summer here in Australia, hopefully months of salads will help in the quest to drop some kg's and have me ready to begin Hill Country in Autumn.

Caroline :)