Kids' Stuff Friday: Shoes

For a long time I absolutely dreaded when it came time to buy new shoes for my oldest, Leo. The process of picking out shoes was a nightmare. He has normal width feet but an extremely high instep and this causes a lot of shoes to not fit at all. Usually the velcro wouldn't strap  because it wasn't long enough to go over his instep or if it did, it would constantly be coming undone as he walked. It was massively frustrating for him and me. We tried going to the expensive high street stores where they measured his feet and he would try on every pair they offered with no success. We would go to the cheaper shoe stores with a bigger selection and maybe end up with something only to have it fall apart in 2 weeks. And of course because his shoes never fit really well, he was always complaining that his feet hurt when we would go for walks. 

We do a lot of walking, good comfortable shoes are very important.

We do a lot of walking, good comfortable shoes are very important.

Just over a year ago, I finally turned to the internet and discovered the idea of barefoot shoes. I found Happy Little Soles, a retailer that specialises in barefoot shoes for kids. I was HUGELY skeptical about buying shoes online at first. I thought if we can try on every shoe at the store and not have a single one fit, how can I possibly order a pair off the internet and get ones that are okay? 

It turned out to be a lot easier than I thought. Using the sizing guide on the website I measured Leo's feet, read all their recommendations and looked for shoes in his size that were labeled as being suitable for high insteps. We ended up with Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove Grisaille (sadly not made anymore). As soon as Leo tried them on he was delighted with how they felt. I was blown away. All complaints about his feet being tired stop, no matter how far we walked, and he wore those shoes until they were falling apart. When that happened, we happily bought the exact same pair in the next size up. 

Our first pair of barefoot shoes, being modelled by little brother.

Our first pair of barefoot shoes, being modelled by little brother.

We also turned to Happy Little Soles when it came time for our first pair of school shoes. That experience sold me on never buying shoes from anywhere else again. When we got the pair in the mail, Leo wasn't quite sure about them and was complaining that they rubbed against his toe. I was pretty sure I had the right size but I emailed Kate with his foot measurements and asked her advice -- I couldn't tell if we were dealing with first-time-going-to-school nerves or if there was actually something up with the fit. She advise me to take the removable sole out and have him stand on that so I could see how much room he had in the shoe. Sure enough there was more than enough room around his toes and with a bit of adjusting of the straps and more walking around he said the shoes were fine. He's been wearing them for 7 months now with no complaints. Kate's calm and thoughtful response to me was just what I needed during the stressful period of a child starting school for the first time! (As an aside, I think the problem is that they are much firmer than the Merrell shoes he normally wears because every time he has two weeks off school, the first time he puts his school shoes back on he complains about them feeling funny around his toes.)

Running around like a silly billy on the first day of school, the shoes were absolutely fine.

Running around like a silly billy on the first day of school, the shoes were absolutely fine.

My youngest son is also thrilled with his shoes from Happy Little Soles. He's on his third pair from them now and he likes sitting at the computer with me picking out which ones he wants. HIs feet are a lot easier to fit but I like the control of picking the exact length that I need rather than some arbitrary size which varies from brand to brand anyway. The range of shoes offered is huge and I think there is a really fun selection to pick from.

Coolest pair of boots ever, by Livie and Luca

Coolest pair of boots ever, by Livie and Luca

So far we have bought 6 pairs of shoes from Happy Little Soles and I couldn't be happier. I will keep buying shoes from only them until my kids' feet are too big to do so.

I was not asked or compensated in anyway to write this review. I've just found a company that I love and I want to share it with you in case you have the same shoe struggles we do. 

All About That Tech Editor, Part 2

In Part 1 I talked about what a tech editor does and how they differ from a test knitter. Today I want to talk about how someone becomes a tech editor, how can you find a reliable tech editor and what skills someone needs to become a tech editor. 

At the moment there is not one definitive path to becoming a tech editor of knitting patterns. There isn't a qualifications program one can do, or a specific course that grants you a certificate that says "Congrats you are now a tech editor!". I have a degree in mathematics and I put this down as one of my qualifications on my tech editor CV. But I recently did a talk about what I do and how I ended up here and someone from the audience asked "Do you really need what you learned in your maths degree to do your job?". The answer is "no, I don't." I'm not a good tech editor because I'm good at theoretical mathematics. But the skills that make me good at theoretical maths make me a good tech editor. I am analytical, I have a good eye detail, I can deal with multiple sets of numbers at once, and I'm comfortable putting formulas into a spreadsheet. That alone isn't enough to edit knitting patterns though. You also have be a knowledgable knitter, familiar with different types of constructions for everything from garments to hats to socks. And again this is where my degree comes in -- I'm good at research, at taking theoretical concepts and applying them to a practical purpose, and consuming a large amount of information and being able to pick out the pertinent bits when needed. I read a ton of knitting books just to keep learning. I buy patterns that have interesting constructions so I can read through them and figure out how they work. It's solving puzzles and I like those, whether they are math or knitting related. 

That said there are plenty of people who come into the tech editing world from something other than a maths background. They might have a science, engineering, English or communications degree. Or they might have 20 years experience working in a yarn store providing pattern support for customers that come in. Whatever the background it is experience and personalities that make good editors. 

How do you find a reliable tech editor? Ravelry has this page and this thread. The other method is recommendations. Ask designer friends who they use and then contact them and find out if they have availability. Try out a few editors and get a feel for how they work and if you two are a good fit. Just because a friend loves (or hates) a certain tech editor does not necessarily mean you will have the same experience. It's really a unique relationship and you need a tech editor that works well with the way you write patterns. Just as an example, there are certain methods of charting stitch patterns that I absolutely can't work with. My mind doesn't easily read and interpret them and every time I try to edit a pattern that uses these types of charts I make mistakes and miss errors. Now I will just tell a client "I'm sorry I really don't think I'm the right tech editor for you, here are some other people you might want to contact."

Now all that's been said, I do think that having more resources for wannabe tech editors would be a good thing. So I've created some courses to help people who don't have experience tech editing but think this would be something they are good at. Basically I'm trying to create something that I wish had existed when I started out. I worked one job at a time, gaining experience and figuring out things as I went. My courses take a bit of a more systematic approach. The "Learn to Tech Edit Course" is for people at the very beginning -- little to no experience, really just curious about the process and learning if they would be good at it. The "Learn to Tech Edit Course, DIY version" is for those who want to learn about tech editing but probably not continue with it as a job. This would also be good for designers who want to get better at proofing their own patterns before sending them on to their tech editor. (As I explain in this post, the better quality pattern you send, the better quality pattern you get back.) 

I've had these options for those just starting out for a couple years now and I've been getting a lot of requests for further mentoring or a follow on course. So I've just released "Learn To Tech Edit, Part 2". In this course we move on from the basics of how to tech edit and move on to taking on real jobs and working through them together.  I'm only taking on a few people at a time so if this is something you might be interested in, get in soon or get yourself on the waiting list to be among the first notified when spots open again. 

I hope that helps! If you have any thoughts to add or questions, please do leave a comment below or send me an email. I'd love to hear from you.