User Error

In my first real, grown-up office job my boss was a man who knew a lot about computers, hardware and software. He understood them as far as they can be understood, but he was no mere techy. He had the soul of an artist and, in another life, would probably have been hanging out with John Steinbeck or Allen Ginsberg.

When I started working with him I had already constructed some basic HTML webpages and so was no computer newbie, but was still prone to losing things and printing unexpected works of art, and threatening my PC with a swift defenestration if it didn’t start cooperating.

At work, when I told my boss that something had disappeared or gone bad he would give me a long, penetrating look and then gently point out that, in 99% of cases, this kind of thing was actually user error. And because he wasn’t, you know, my husband, I couldn’t swear blind that I had done thing Exactly Right and that the stupid machine had simply decided to mess with my head. We would retrace my footsteps, find the mistake, and fix it, no recriminations.

And so, I finally learned to use computers properly when I finally learned to admit that it was probably my mistake and that I should stop whining, find my error and fix it. Which, in turn, made me notice that when I wasn’t busy getting all hot and bothered and defensive, I had a much better chance of making some progress.

It is a lesson I am struggling to apply to my knitting.

Yesterday I cast on for a lacy spring sock. I was going to use a lace pattern I found and wing it, but suddenly realised that I didn’t know how to make it work in the round and that my efforts at improvising were screwing things up royally.

So I went to and found The Queen of Cups, and set to work. It was late and the light was dim, and the battery on my laptop was fading fast, but I was enthusiastic and happily cast on my 60 stitches and worked the ribbing.

Midnight came and went, but I was determined to at least start the first lace chart before I went to bed (because I cannot learn from other people or from experience that this is a bad idea).

Sadly, inevitably, when I got to the end of the row I discovered that I didn’t have enough stitches left to complete the row.

I rolled my eyes. I cursed. I stuffed the sock in a sack (literally) and went to bed.

This morning I checked the lace pattern for some stitch that I wasn’t supposed to repeat, perhaps (a favourite mistake of mine) or for a miscount. What I discovered is that the pattern has 16 stitches in each repeat.

Sixteen? How can sixteen go into 60? There must be a stitch that doesn’t get worked on all the repeats. But it’s not marked in the pattern. I wonder if there is an erratum for this pattern published somewhere…but no, it’s an online pattern. Wouldn’t they just have fixed it online? I wonder if anyone else has had this problem. Must find a forum…

No, how could they be so stupid as to miss that casting on sixty stitches just won’t work. Maybe I was supposed to increase after the ribbing. Let’s scroll up.



Can you guess?

I was supposed to cast on 64 stitches. Which would, in fact, work with a 16 stitch repeat, what with 16 dividing 64 four times, and all.

Not sure quite how I saw a “4” as a “0”, but there’s no denying it:

User error.

I’ll be casting on a third time at some point later today. Dammit.

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