What The Heck is Tech Editing?

It has been a busy week since posting about about my first venture into designing.  Thank you for all the love and support!  Since last week, I wrote up the pattern using Stitchmastery and Microsoft Word.  I’m a self-taught Word user and Stitchmastery, a program for designing knitting charts and instructions, is completely new to me. There was a lot of trial and error as I figured it out.  I still have a lot to learn about Stitchmastery, but by Monday night, I had put together what looked to me like a decent pattern. 

Next step: find a tech editor. Fortunately, Ravelry has forums for stuff like this. There, I found tech editor, Jenna Sargent.  (Found here).   We exchanged emails and as luck would have it, she had the time in her schedule to take on my pattern and I sent it to her for editing.   Jenna had said she’d have the edits back to me in a week but I was still surprised to receive them back last night.  I was excited and a bit nervous. How bad would it be? Feeling as if I was back in college getting a paper back from a professor, with trepidation,  I opened the PDF with her edits.  

Around now, you may be asking yourself, why would I need or want to hire a tech editor? The answer is easy: I want this pattern to be as polished and professional as possible when I publish it. A tech editor will review and critique it for clarity and consistency. They make sure your pattern is easy to understand and check your charts and written instructions, making suggestions for ways to edit and improve the pattern. And they check all of your math.  This part had me nervous, even though a shawl pattern doesn’t have as much shaping as sweater and so less math. Jenna checked it thoroughly and included a spreadsheet outlining her calculations. Yay, my math was correct! 

For someone who loves to knit, a craft that quite frankly involves a lot of math, I’m not a fan.  It’s not that I’m bad at Math.  It’s just that two unfortunate experiences involving math in elementary school have left me insecure about it. You’d think I’d be over it by now but I still get this funny feeling in the pit of my stomach whenever I have to do it.

The first experience occurred In first grade at Meraux Elementary in Chalmette, LA.  We had a different teacher for Math than our regular homeroom teacher.  One day, she gave my class one of those ditto worksheets to do.  (If you’re over a certain age, you probably can remember how they smelled! I used to love that.)  I was one of the first students to be handed the worksheet.  This is where my independent personality and the ability to read since the age of 3 was not a good thing. While the teacher was still passing out sheets to the rest of the class, I proceeded to read the instructions and work out the math problems on the paper.  The teacher was not happy when she saw that I hadn’t waited for her instructions and had gone ahead on my own. Apparently, showing initiative is not something encouraged or expected in first grade! The teacher took my paper and marked it with a big X in front of everyone.  Can you say embarrassing? 

Flash forward to fifth grade for unfortunate Math experience number two.  In the middle of the school year, we moved from Pensacola, FL to Wilmington, NC.  In Florida in Math class, we were getting ready to learn how to calculate fractions to decimals and back again.  But when I got to North Carolina, the class had already had that lesson and I had missed it.   I’ve felt shaky about fractions and decimals ever since. Good thing they invented calculators and there are tech editors to check your math!

Looking over all of Jenna’s notes, it’s easy to see just how important it is to have someone with a clear eye go over everything.  The pattern I sent Jenna seemed clear enough to me, but now I see that it wasn’t as clear as I thought.  She found all my grammatical errors, typos and made important suggestions for clarifying aspects of the pattern’s written directions and charts.  This will make it easier to follow for another knitter. 

I’m now making corrections and changes based on Jenna’s suggestions. Afterwards, I’ll send it back to her for a final overview before finalizing it.  Hopefully, I’ll be circling back with all those who offered to test knit by next week.  In the meantime, a big shout out to Jenna for all her hard work and support!  Thanks to her, Anchors Aweigh is now one step closer to launch!

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