As I mentioned yesterday, I bought my daughter The Knitter’s Book Of Yarn for Christmas. Now don’t get me wrong, this is a good book and I’m enjoying reading it but there is one thing that bugs me about it. From what I’ve read so far, and from my independent research and from talking to sheepy people, Clara Parkes really knows her stuff but there is one little niggly thing that will bug me every time I pick the book up. It has no impact on the information contained inside the book but it’s there just the same. And. It. Bothers. Me.
Now before I get into this there is something I think you should know: I’m a stickler for detail. It drives the people I know crazy and no one more so than my youngest daughter. She has had to bear the brunt of my tirades against movies that were made from books that I loved but miss the mark – I will never forgive Peter Jackson for not including Tom Bombadil in the Lord of the Rings movie nor will I forgive him for casting Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn but that’s another story – and I have been known to carry on for days when I’ve heard a particularly egregious cover of a song I love – Avril Lavigne’s cover of Coldplay’s “The Scientist” is one of the worst things to happen to music since Britney Spears (although Miley Cyrus is right up there). Yeah, so I think I’ve established that I have a closed mind when it comes to certain things.
So back to the book. When you crack open the cover, Ms. Parkes has a lovely graphic illustrating the animals that wool comes from as well as the categories of yarn. It’s a very good graphic. She includes things such as corn, modell, polyester, cotton, hemp, linen, angora, silk, yak…and then, there it is, a glaring error. Staring me right in the face is a picture of a certain little critter that often comes to my bird feeder at night. It’s got a ton of sharp little teeth and a long tail and is pudgy and…white. Yes, it’s a North American opossum. She carries this error into the text by proclaiming that this opossum is from New Zealand and Australia where it roams around in large numbers and is a real pest. Well, you know she got part of it right. The fur that she is referring to does come from an introduced species in New Zealand that has become a pest but it isn’t an opossum and it certainly doesn’t resemble the picture she has in the front of her book.
Here is a picture of the critter she has referenced:
Now as cute as that little guy is and let me say that it could have a very nice, soft undercoat, I wouldn’t want to try to catch that thing. These guys have 50 sharp little teeth! I would rather try to take a peanut from a squirrel. Now compare this to the critter responsible for some of the loveliest, and softest, yarn I’ve ever had the good fortune to hold in my hand:
This is a brush-tailed possum and that cute little guy is culled regularly by the thousands in New Zealand because it has become a pest. Fortunately for us knitters, the fur is harvested and spun into an amazing yarn. Now if only I could afford some of it.
The problem with Ms. Parkes error is that someone will see it and think that they can trap that rat-like animal roaming around, and causing mayhem, their backyard. They may even put out a trap thinking they could kill the beast and get some free yarn. I am doubtful, however, since it would take a few…dozen…to get enough usable yarn but you never know, there are some strange people out there and I would hate to think that some other creature, like a feral cat, could get caught in someone’s misguided attempt to obtain some opossum fur. In any case, it is a small and insignificant error and the little bit of information she gives about the yarn is truthful but, still, it is an avoidable error. It is an error a careful editor would have caught. And I know a lot of people will shrug their shoulders and carry on, as well they should, but me? I’ll think of it every time I open the book even if I’m looking for information on Llama yarn or hand-dyed yarns. And it will drive me crazy.
This is going to be a real problem for me and my enjoyment of this book. I know that every time I turn a page I’m going to be waiting for the next trivial thing to set my brain on fire. I will be reading it with an eye kept wide open looking for typos, or grammatical errors, or questionable research. And the really sad thing is that I won’t be happy until I find another mistake. I will go through each and every pattern looking for errors, I will probably even look online for the errata for this book. I won’t rest until I’ve found them all. And why? Because when I buy a book I like to think it is perfect. Yes, I am that person. Nothing is perfect. I realize how silly this all sounds and I wish I could stop myself from obsessing over such trivial little details but it’s been like this ever since I cracked open my first book.
It’s funny, though, that this kind of obsession doesn’t translate to my knitting. Oh sure, I have been known to rip out an entire back because I didn’t like something about it or I’ve noticed a mistake that I didn’t catch earlier but generally, if the mistake is not that noticeable and doesn’t affect a pattern or cable or the fit of the garment, I leave it alone. It’s kind of like those Persian rugs that the weavers supposedly purposefully make a mistake on. It’s my way of making it my own. Oh, who am I kidding. If I make a mistake I’m not happy until I go back and fix the damn thing because I. Am. That. Person. Sad but true.