Guest post: Lisa Beth Houchins

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Hello Knitters! I am Lisa Beth Houchins at Meanest Mommy Knits. I am a tech editor of knitting patterns, and I provide left-brain help for right-brain people. Thanks to Annika, one of my wonderful clients, for inviting me to be her guest blogger. She suggested that I tell you a little bit about what I do as a tech editor and how I became one.

As a tech editor, I partner with Annika and other designers to help them release the best, most professional pattern possible. We all know how frustrating it is to be knitting a pattern that is riddled with errors. Some typos or minor inconsistencies are one thing, but serious errors can keep you from being able to knit an item correctly. (I’ll never forget the time I was knitting a complicated, cabled sweater and figured out that the pattern chart key had the cables listed wrong. I lost 20+ hours of work. Ugh!) A designer hires a tech editor to make sure her pattern is correct, clear, and consistent. That designer is committed to publishing the best possible pattern for her customers. Think of it as proactive customer service!

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When I tech edit a pattern, I read through the pattern as if I am knitting it, but I don’t actually knit it. (I’m pretty good at visualizing how the pattern will work as I read through it.) Here are some examples of things that I’d check in a typical tech edit:

  • Does the pattern have all the parts it should? Title, measurements, gauge, materials, abbreviations, directions, etc.
  • Do the directions make sense? Would a knitter be able to make what’s in the picture if they follow the directions? Are there other ways to explain things that would provide additional clarity?
  • Is the pattern grammatically correct? Does it have proper punctuation? Are there typos that need to be fixed?
  • Will the sizes work on an actual person?
  • Are the stitch counts and other math correct? (Each pattern gets its own spreadsheet where I check the math.)
  • Does the chart match the written directions?
  • Are all the abbreviations listed in the Abbreviations List? Are the stitches explained correctly?
  • Is the pattern consistent throughout? Are abbreviations used consistently? Is the same style used throughout the pattern?

Basically, I’m looking for things that would make it hard for a knitter to follow the pattern or make the pattern seem less professional than it could be. After I have gone through the pattern, I let the designer know what I’ve found. The designer takes this information into consideration and makes her desired changes before publishing the final draft. The designer has the final say over what changes she makes. She is the boss of her design and pattern!

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I became a tech editor more than a year ago. As a long-time knitter and occasional knitting pattern designer, I knew there was a market for someone to help knitwear designers publish clear, correct patterns. Luckily, I found some online classes that helped me figure out that a tech editing career would be a good fit for me. These classes (plus previous careers in education and in the math/computer field) gave me a solid background and also provided the practice and confidence I needed to get started. I am also about to start The Knitting Guild Association Technical Editor certification process. I’m thrilled to have found a dream job that combines knitting, math, and working with people.

You can follow me on social media or contact me with questions about tech editing:

Ravelry/Instagram/Twitter

Website: https://meanestmommyknits.com

 

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