It started innocently enough. Maaike was having a hard time with a pattern she’s knitting, and on Tuesday night she’d emailed me to see if I could bring my copy of the pattern to work so we could discuss it via msn/email. She’s knitting the Puzzle Pillow Blanket out of Meg Swansen’s Handknitting (yes, the Meg Swansen, Elizabeth Zimmermann’s daughter), and was stuck when trying to follow on of the directions.
Long story short, the pattern says something to the effect of “start at D, knit across to A, turn and knit back. You are now at A.” Well, um…no. No you’re not. You’re back at D. Maaike was back at D, and when I looked at the pattern I couldn’t see any way you would be anywhere but D.
Maaike Googled. I Googled. I checked Schoolhouse Press’ errata page. We checked Ravelry. There was no online mention of any problems in the pattern, not even in the blurbs of the 6 other people in Ravelry who had knit/are knitting it.
Finally Maaike sent me an msn message- Maybe I should just email Schoolhouse Press. I hear sometimes Meg herself answers the phone!
I offered to call for her, since I knew that while we were both at work, she was surrounded by bosses and coworkers, and I was surrounded by…Jakob. I didn’t think he’d rat me out. Maaike said she’d appreciate it, and since I understood the problem, yes, could I please call for her.
They have a technical line so I called that and told the girl who answered that I had a problem with one of the patterns. It was easier to say *I* was knitting it and had a problem, rather then to start explaining that I was calling for a friend. She asked which pattern and I told her, and she said “hold on please”. The next thing I hear is:
“Schoolhouse Press, this is Meg. How can I help you?”
I think my exact response was “MRPHG- *gulp* (remember to breathe) OH! Hi!”
Once I’d composed myself I explained the problem to her, and after a few minutes of trying to rationalize how it could be *our* mistake, she said, “Oh. Huh. Yes, I see…Hmmm.” Yup. It was *their* mistake.
Maaike and I had been expecting that, because we couldn’t see how we were wrong, but it was still a surprise. I mean, this pattern book had been originally published in 1995 and has been knit by lys-loads of knitters…how could we have spotted something they didn’t?
So Meg saw the error clearly in the printed text, then there was a slight pause and she said to me, “You know what the worst part is? Two days ago we received the 20, 000 copies of the latest printing.”
I apologized for being the barer of bad news and she laughed, then she asked for my name so she could give me credit for finding the error when she would post the errata. I told her my first name, but told her that I had to be honest, and that it wasn’t me who found the error, it was my friend Maaike. I told her how to spell Maaike’s name (hey Maaike- I forgot to tell you that she asked if there were supposed to be any little dots or squiggles over any of the letters in your name…I said no…I hope that was right!) and after a few more short exchanges we got off the phone.
I was back on msn with Maaike in a flash- OMG Are you sitting down?
I was laughing and grinning and typed the story relatively error-free, and we were both sending smiley emoticons at each other.
Eventually we calmed down and went about our day, then a little later we started discussing how Maaike could best continue her project, as I’d forgotten to ask Meg for her opinion on what to do to fix the pattern. Obviously there were 2 options- knit one more row or knit one less row, both would end with you back at A where you should be. We were both leaning towards “knit one row less” because it was in garter with aran-weight yarn, and an extra garter ridge could throw things off in the future.
We were actually in the middle of writing an email to sent to Schoolhouse Press, asking for their advice, when my phone rang. I answered the phone in my usual work way, with the name of our store followed by “can I help you?”.
Imagine my surprise to hear “Hi Jennifer, this is Meg Swansen.”
To my credit, I did NOT drop Jakob, although I’m glad I was sitting down when I’d answered.
Turns out she’d called US back to tell us her opinion on what to do about the error, so that we could continue with the pattern! (We were right- the best thing would be to omit the “turn and work back” direction).
The most amusing part of the conversation was when she said to me how she’d tracked us down…apparently she’d Googled Maaike’s name and found her, in fact Meg actually said “I found Maaike Lastname”, which is amazing because I’d never told her either of our last names, and I just tried Googling Maaike and didn’t see any references to her last name, so I’m not sure how Meg did! In any case, it didn’t have contact info, so she said they realized that they could *69 me! (That’s when you push *69 after a phone conversation and it tells you the number that just called you). I thought it was hysterical that she tracked us down, and am amazed by the customer service, especially since a) I got to speak to Meg Swansen!!! and b) she wasn’t profiting from helping us, because we’d already bought the patterns.
(By the way, Meg is quite lovely and charming to speak to, and sounds much, much younger than I would guess her to be. She laughs easily too, which is a relief when you’re calling to tell her that there is a mistake in her pattern!)
Way to go, Schoolhouse Press!
p.s. I just checked, and the errata is up on their website! Click here to see it, with the credit to us and everything!
You rock Meg!
June 28, 2008 at 12:45 am
I thought this was neat when I heard you tell it in person yesterday!
And lucky you!
June 28, 2008 at 1:48 pm
Yea, the live version was more exciting LOL 🙂 So happy 4 u & now i atleast know who she is lol
June 29, 2008 at 7:05 pm
How exciting! You talked to an icon, and she even called you back!!! Way to go!
June 30, 2008 at 3:15 pm
Wow, how cool is that! Meg sounds incredibly nice and great to deal with. That’s great that you were able to fix the pattern.
July 1, 2008 at 3:27 pm
Aw, that’s neat. Just goes to show you what a nice bunch we knitters really are. 🙂