Monday, September 2, 2013

Tech Editors

Finding a good tech editor is critical to a designer. The big question is what does good really mean?

For many designers it helps to identify your own pattern writing deficiencies and personal style. 

I seem to be fairly good at the numbers, my errors are less often about calculations and more likely to be about typo's and transposing digits. Sometimes my number errors come about as one design decision can cascade down into changes in numbers further along in the pattern. I grade across a series of sizes and I also work through the numbers size by size. Sometimes I adjust things because it improves the design visually by making changes of 1 or 2 stitches. This means that on occasion my numbers don't run in a sequence. Some tech editors insist that they should. My pattern drafting background makes me want to argue this point. However I know that many knitters will question a pattern that doesn't run in sequence.

Editors often want to make hard rules; such as all measurements fall in half or quarter increments. Most of the time I can live with that but on occasion I've used quarter increments on inches when the row gauge count and patterning worked out that way mathematically.  I know that knitters alter patterns and I've had students ask questions about the rounding of measurements in classes. These issues are why I don't feel hard rules are always the best choice for every situation.

I've discovered after working with several different editors that my preferred style is a collaborative personality. I don't want an editor who just fixes things. I want to understand what's right, what's wrong and the many nuances in between. When I started writing patterns I expected it to be simpler. I expected to be able to find a clear right answer. Now that I have a few years experience I recognize that it is never that straight forward. I use many resources when I make a decision on all the possible variations I could choose to use in my patterns. In many cases it is difficult to find definitive answers.  

If you are a pattern writer struggling with the editing process try to distance yourself from the work. Constructive criticism is about the work not about you. It should be a learning opportunity for the writer. The editor who had the highest number of negatives when reviewing my pattern was the one I learned the most from in a single edit. The editor who had only one change to a pattern, expressed it to me in a manner that made me feel I was a bad little girl getting my knuckles rapped with a ruler. I knew instantly I wasn't going to learn from her and moved on.  

If you are a knitter struggling to understand a pattern please understand that we pattern writers get better the more we write. You can help us by asking questions.


  1. From a knitter's point of view this is very interesting. I didn't realize how much input the editors could have in the process. I did think it was about the size grading and looking for "actual" errors not "perspective" errors.

  2. This is such an interesting post - thanks for sharing your perspective! I've done some volunteer pattern editing and really enjoyed it, so I'd love to get enough experience to tech edit for real! It's great to know what people are looking for.