Last week, I stumbled onto this blog post from a designer friend of mine, Jill Wolcott, that introduces you to my tech editor, Sue McCain. I thought I would pass it along to not only introduce you to Sue, but also to Jill’s blog and (beautiful) website. Jill is very active in the knitwear designer community and works hard at presenting an informative and entertaining website, so do check it out.
Have you ever been curious about the process of pattern writing? (Let’s just say it’s not my favorite part of designing…) I’ve never had a problem with the math part of it (even sizing out in 7 different sizes) but the wording drives me crazy. My brain just doesn’t work in a standardized form. Consistency is key and I’ve learned I’m anything but.
Enter Sue. When I first hired her, I thought she would only be checking my math. Making sure the pattern worked. I was pretty smug, because after all, back when I was doing so much freelance work, I had several tech editors comment on how well my patterns were written. Boy, was I on a long road of discovery.
The first collection I worked with her on was Vests Rock! – The first group of designs I did with Tahki yarns. Sue was recommended by the company. I knew Sue, although not well, through my past work with Classic Elite yarns (many years ago). I had always admired her work, so I got in contact with her.
That collection included Shale, the simplest design of the group (and still one of my best selling designs – there must be something to that KISS rule!) along with four others, including Chert (not so complicated but it did involve some short-row shaping), Obsidian (side-to-side shaping with short rows), Moonstone (traveling cables, more shaping, and pockets) and Granite (intarsia, for goodness sake!).
Tech editors get paid by the hour and that collection took many hours, believe me ($$$)! She probably wished I’d never contact her again. But I did, and 5 years later, we’re still working together. She’s still teaching me.
Here’s a quote from Sue on tech-editing:
As designers, it’s important for us to have someone look over our patterns. We know what we mean to say, but that’s not always what the pattern actually says. A technical editor will point out not only where the math doesn’t work, but also where the wording doesn’t make sense or could be improved. Despite being a professional tech editor, I always have another editor run through my patterns to make sure they’re correct.
Things I’ve learned from Sue:
- Consistency has to be at the top of the list – still learning with every pattern, but I think I’m getting better…
- The plural spelling of parenthesis!
- Rounding up and/or down rules for patterns.
- Tips on drawing schematics (I use Illustrator for that)
- Drawing up charts on Illustrator (still learning this, too)
I’ll stop there, but I have to add: never start a new editing relationship with 5 completely diverse designs, especially requiring charts across all sizes!