Book review -- Kung Fu Knits

There is a new book out which I've been asked to review. It's also a book that I tech edited. But in all honesty? Take those two things out of the picture and I still would want to review this book for you guys. It is that awesome. 

The book is Kung Fu Knits by Elizabeth Green Musselman

Kung Fu Knits is the first combined pattern book / comic book from designer Elizabeth Green Musselman of Dark Matter Knits. Whether your kid is a martial arts fan, loves certain turtles with ninja proclivities, or just enjoys some comic book action, you’ll find this story has wide-ranging appeal. Share the story with your favorite kid and prepare to be begged for every one of these knits.

I love this book. It's broken down into two parts -- a short little comic at the beginning telling the story of the knitwear, and then the patterns at the end. I think this is such a unique and innovative way to get your kids interested in having something knit for them. Of course now my kiddo wants everything in the book and I'm not sure he'd actually wear knitted pants (maybe I can find a cotton blend he'll like) but the point is, he loved it and was excited by it, and wanted to read it again. I only have the PDF version at the moment but am eagerly awaiting my hard copy. I can see us sitting through and reading it again and being inspired to write our own stories with our own knitted designs.

There are six patterns: jacket with belt, pants, bag, throwing stars, and nunchucks. Like I said, Leo wants them all. The sizing is ages 4-12 so definitely the option of making a size slightly too big and having growing room, which is awesome. They are clever but still totally enjoyable knits. The pants and jacket are seamless, which is my personal preference. I can't fault this book in anyway. It's perfect, I love it, and there better be sequels or there will be an angry mob of kung fu kids after Elizabeth. Guaranteed. 

Here's the other thing though -- not only did Elizabeth write this great book but she has lots of other designs for older kids. I have made a couple of them before and they are some of my favourite pieces. (Okay the Langstroth sweater was before it got felted it, but I haven't found a way to blame Elizabeth for that yet. I really need to make another one!) And very kindly she is offering you guys a code for 15% off her self-published patterns until the end of November. Just use the code kfklaunch at checkout. 

So, please do click through and give the book some love, her patterns some love and if you have kids to knit for buy this book, buy her patterns, you won't be disappointed. 

I'm leaving you with an audio review of the book by Leo (age 5):

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.