On Reviews

Standard

I don’t actually end up doing reviews very frequently here. I always say I will, and I do think about it–I can be opinionated and have a lot to say–but I usually just never get around to it. There is knitting to be done (or spinning, dyeing, or processing raw fiber. What I’m saying is there’s a lot to do). I feel like I probably mentioned Lantern Moons have the worst tips I’ve ever tolerated (so blunt!) and are incredibly fragile here in blogland, but I’m not going to go hunt it up, because, well.

I don’t really do reviews.

But I do have some expectations for a good review, so the handful of forays I’ve made I’ve tried to create a review that will be informative and point out the potential deal breakers/makers for other folks.

~gets out the soapbox to stand on~

The potential flaws are, to me, imperative to point out in a review. When you have a limited amount of money you can spend on your favourite hobby, when you can’t just go out and buy every knitting book ever and so quality doesn’t necessarily matter, those potential flaws are even more important. Sure, go to the library and get the book there first. What if you’re library doesn’t have it, you can’t get it through interlibrary loan, and none of the bookshops carry it? (This is actually possible, especially with newer books) What if you can’t make it out enough to scope out the book first? What if that 40% book sale online is what is getting you that book in the first place?

You don’t want to buy something that doesn’t fit you. Or rather, I don’t want to.

Don’t lie to me and tell me that Cables Untangled is an in-depth discussion of cables, with some patterns, and charts for different cables. It’s not. It’s, at best, a very glossy and very pretty instruction book on how to do a cable. That is not in-depth. Any book that has a cable has those instructions.

Mention what kind of tips a needle has. Mention if they break, mention how much they break, mention if they bow.

Tell me if a book has nothing new in the way of design, and instead is just another “12 sock patterns you might not like too much.” There are so many of those.

But, please, I beg you, do not fall into what has become, for me, the Knitty Review.

“Item X is super awesome and so amazing for y reasons.”

I realize they have limited space, and likely get lots of things. I’d gladly sacrifice more items for actual reviews instead of what feels like fan girlish squealing over the Next Big Thing (that will disappear next issue). I don’t want to know how amazing it is (well I do but), I want to know what might be off. Is it an in-depth discussion on cables, on quickly they can be turned, how deep angles can be, how many, how it affects weight of your item, or is it really just a glorified instruction manual with some (possibly not really that great) patterns? Is it a lace book, with patterns, or is it a Lace Book, with serious history and discussions of the technique of the region it’s going through?

Please give me the possibly bad.

I feel like this is becoming more and more a part of society, this constant praising of everything and never saying anything bad. If Knitty were actually selling these items, I’d glaze over it too–KnitPicks’ reviews are very positive, but they are selling the item and so I just don’t read it. I feel like the critique reviews I’ve enjoyed reading for film and literature and (gasp!) videogames has me to the point that I feel like this webmagazine that is so large in the knitting world (have you seen their server on a release day?) really should step up its game. Stop being so shallow. Give me the best of the best, and then tell me what might be wrong with it.

We’ll all benefit from it. Really.

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One response »

  1. I agree that I wish there was a bit more of an approach of pros and cons in review. I think as long as it is presented in “this is my opinion…” or “this is my experience…” then it is really beneficial. The good can’t be good if everything in life is good – we need some bad to help us savor the good even more!

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