The checklist your tech editor wants you to be using

You're a designer and you want your pattern to be in the best possible shape before you send it to your tech editor (TE), right?

Of course you do! The better the quality of the pattern you send in, the better the quality of the pattern you get out. 

The more issues a tech editor has to fix, the more things that are potentially going to be missed. It will cost you more time and money. Patterns which come to a publisher in  bad shape don't help your reputation with them.

So, here's a checklist that your tech editor will thank you for following (and you'll thank yourself as well):

  • Look at your pictures and make sure you include detail shots. Send them in the email to the TE if they aren't included in the pattern itself. The tech editor needs these to make sure that your instructions are making what's pictured in the sample. 

  • All descriptions make sense -- I know designers reuse templates a lot and sometimes you forget to update something.

  • Layout is logical and clear and the pattern is consistent in style -- for example, you might want to check your capitalisation throughout and make sure you haven't used "rep to end" in one spot and "repeat to end" in another. 

  • All needles listed are used and all needles used are listed.

  • Gauge is listed stockinette stitch but also in stitch patterns used. It's really helpful to the TE to have the gauge in stitch pattern listed as well (really helpful is an understatement if you want them to be able to accurately check the finished measurements. Absolutely vital would be more accurate.)

  • All notions are listed and in the correct amounts – buttons, ribbons, snaps, stitch holders, tapestry needles, etc. (Make sure you have button quantities correct for different sizes. I know I'm often guilty of listing the number of buttons I used in my sample, but not checking how many each size actually needs.)

  • If there is an abbreviations section then check all abbreviations used in the pattern are listed. Remember special/unusual abbreviations including cables should always be listed.

  • Pattern makes logical sense – give it a quick read through and make sure all elements are there. Mittens have thumbs, socks have heels and toes, garments have two sleeves and a neck opening, etc.

  • RS/WS are labelled correctly and follow on correctly (i.e. if Row 1 is a RS row then all odd numbered rows should be RS rows.)

  • Rows are numbered correctly (particularly if a pattern says something like “Rows 10-20: Work 10 rows in pattern.” If you have Rows X-Y then the number of rows worked is Y- X+1.)

  • Check all the numbers – look at pattern repeats working with the number of stitches in the rows and increases and decreases resulting in correct stitch counts (and please list the stitch counts after every change if possible. You can remove these before publishing but it helps the TE stay on the same track as you.)

  • Finishing instructions are listed and correct – designers often miss listing a seam to be sewn or an area to be grafted.

  • All necessary charts and schematics are included — if no schematic is going to be provided then you've got to have finished measurements listed somewhere.

  • Charts match written instructions and chart keys are given and correct. All stitches shown in the key are used in the chart and all stitches shown in the chart are listed in the key. It's helpful to let your TE know if the written instructions have been generated by your charting software or not. (If they have been then most likely the TE does not need to do a line by line comparison with the chart and this is for the two of you to discuss.)

  • Pattern sizing should be reasonable when held up to some sizing standard -- perhaps give the TE a heads up of what sizing standard you used or make sure you are following the one given to you by the publisher.

  • Can you improve the clarity of the pattern in any way? Are there spots you are unsure about the phrasing? Point these out to your TE! Let them know your specifically worried about it. It might not raise a red flag with them otherwise and it's important that you get feedback (even if it's just a "looks good to me!") to ease your worries. 

Do you agree or disagree with the points above? Have I missed anything? How do you get your pattern ready for your tech editor? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

Is there a tech editor in you?

I get a lot of people emailing me about my tech editing course, asking:

"I currently work full time but I am a designer and want to branch out into tech editing. Is this course for me?"

"I'm a busy mom and I'm not sure I will have the time for your course. What if I get behind because my baby starts teething?"

You can become a tech editor no matter what your current work/life situation is. I can help get there you.

My entire career as a technical editor (for books, magazines, yarn companies and hundreds of designers) has been built whilst also raising my kids (including giving birth to one of those kids and figuring out how to work with a newborn and a two year old.) You don't need to have childcare (though it helps, not going to lie.) You can work around nap time if that's all you have available. (If you have one of those kids that only sleeps in your arms, get a baby carrier. For a while, much of my editing work was done standing up with my kiddo asleep in a sling on my back.) If you're in a full-time job you can fit this into your evenings. Together, we can make this work for you if you really want it.

Ultimately the course is worked at your own pace and fits into your schedule. You might be able to do the first three assignments in two weeks then have to take a month break while life gets busy. That's fine! To get the most out of the course though, and for me to really help you, you've got to eventually get all six assignments done.

Each assignment requires around 3 hours work total -- reading through and understand the material and then doing the assignment. There are a couple lessons that take a bit more time. But mostly, if you are able to dedicate a couple evenings a week you'll be fine. 

Do I need a degree in math to understand the material?

I'm not going to lie, you need to love math. You really do. Crunching numbers needs to make your heart sing if you're going to think about this as a career. But you don't need anything beyond high school math. It's mostly adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing and sometimes a square root or two. If you can use a spreadsheet that's going to be a big help.

You do also need to have an eye for detail. You need to be able to tell the difference between:

Row 1 (RS): K1, p2, k to end of row.


Row 1 [RS]: K1, p2, knit to end.

(Hint there are 3 major differences.)

If you can't spot the differences, this course isn't going to help. I'm assuming you have the core skills needed.

Still wondering if it's for you? Well if it is, then you probably...

  • read books on knitted sweater construction for fun.
  • get passionate about whether it should be "[k2, p2] to end" or " *k2, p2; rep from * to end".
  • have done a bit of test knitting and really impressed the designer with your feedback.

If all of this interests you but you're not ready to think about tech editing as a career option then think about my DIY version of the course. You get all the same information including answers to the assignments, but you work on your own without my feedback. 

If all of this makes you scream "YES! This is the career I've been wanting." then make sure you are on my mailing list. I'll be opening the course up for sign-ups in the next couple weeks and the mailing list will be the first to know. Spots are limited so you want to get in first if you're really interested! You can also leave a comment on this post and I will email you right before sign-ups go live.