Save Money By Being Your TE's Favourite Client
Are you a natural teacher's pet, or aspire to be? Read on.
I recently realized I've just passed my second anniversary of grading for clients, which means I've been editing for about two and a half years. I'm so grateful that I stumbled into this job, and it has definitely accelerated my learning in terms of pattern writing and grading. I get the opportunity to work with so many patterns, and while I'm sure I'll never say "I've seen it all", I have seen a LOT, and I love chatting with clients and applying my experience to their unique design challenges.
One of the best parts of being a tech editor is growing relationships with my designers over many patterns. I'm proud of each one we work on together, and I learn something new every time. I try to keep track of your unique style, the way you format things, the way you explain things, and the sizing you offer. The more I work with a client and learn their specific methods, the faster I get at editing their patterns, because I can look back at previous designs and correspondence to fill in missing pieces and answer my own questions. Use the tips below to accelerate this process by giving your editor all the information they'll need to polish your patterns just the way you like 'em. They'll love you for it, and they'll spend less time looking for answers, saving you money on editing.
1. Swatch every stitch
If your design uses multiple stitch patterns, you might not list the gauge for every single one in the written pattern, but your editor will need the unique gauge of each stitch pattern and needle size used so they can confirm that your instructions will add up to the finished measurements provided. Include this in your email to your editor if they won't all be in the pattern.
How do you know if a gauge needs to be included in the pattern? Think about how it would affect the finished piece. I don’t often see the ribbing gauge in patterns, for example - it’s often assumed that if your main gauge is correct, going down two sizes of needles will get you to a good place for your ribbing. If a stitch pattern is not the main one but affects fit significantly, it's a good idea to include it.
2. Measure twice, shoot once
I love when designers send me detail photos of their sample and I especially love when there’s a measuring tape in the photo. Why is this better than just listing the finished measurements? If I can’t match my calculations to the designer’s measurements, there are a number of possible reasons, the most common being gauge. If I can see exactly how the measurement was taken and count the gauge on the photo, I can eliminate a lot of follow-up questions. This is especially important for my grading clients.
3. Ask great questions
Are you trying out a new construction method, or just starting out doing your own grading? If there’s anything you’re not sure about, ask your TE for advice. We have seen dozens if not hundreds of designs, and we pick up a lot of knowledge and resources along the way. Looking for a specialized sizing chart, a matching bind off, or a tutorial to recommend? I probably have that, and I love to help.
There are two big ways to save editing time by standardizing your work - using a standard sizing chart, and using a style sheet. Some popular free sizing standards include Ysolda, Sister Mountain, and Craft Yarn Council. Some of my clients want to offer more than the standard range of sizes, and I have helped them create custom sizing charts that we use for all of their patterns. Using a sizing standard and letting your editor know which one you are using saves time and questions because they can refer to it to ensure your grading is even across all points of the body.
One thing I run into a lot is a non-standard grade (range of sizes) to make a stitch pattern fit. We can work with this, but there are some special considerations, such as ensuring an even amount of ease in every size and across all points on the body. You'll also need to ensure that knitters have the information they need to choose their best size. This is a great example of something your editor can help with.
A style sheet is another great time saver. This is a document you provide to your editor that outlines what types of formatting you want to use for every part of the pattern - everything from font types and sizes, to how you write out repeats, and what units of measure you’ll use in what order. When these types of things are not formatted consistently in a pattern, I’ll often compare to a previous pattern to see which is most commonly used and make suggestions for consistency. A style sheet takes out the guesswork, giving me a standard document to compare to. If you’d like help preparing a style sheet, feel free to ask me for samples.
If you have the luxury of time, I always suggest putting your pattern away for a few days after you finish writing it, and then taking another look yourself with fresh eyes. Consider the items above as you read through your pattern for completeness and consistency. The vast majority of comments I make on patterns are related to formatting and typos, so catching these small things before the pattern goes out the door will save you money on editing. Your pattern doesn’t have to be perfect for your editor to love you - perfect patterns put us out of a job - but bearing these tips in mind will make the editing process smooth and fun.
Feel free to shout out your editor or pattern grader in the comments and show them some love!