When I first started editing, I took the path of feeling like everything had to be written a certain way, that everything needed to fit with some industry standard.
Over time I’ve come to change my approach to be more relaxed and whenever I think back to my first few edits I cringe.
Nowadays I fully believe that preserving the designer’s voice is one of my most important jobs when tech editing. It’s pretty common for big companies to spend lots of money preserving their brand identity. If you’ve ever worked in a role where writing is involved you likely had a style guide and brand guidelines that you had to adhere to. Tone, style, word choices, etc. come together to form a company’s brand voice, which can be a really important element in a company’s communications strategy. You also have a brand voice in your knitting patterns. Your romance text, the way you word instructions, your way of styling instructions, the flow of the instructions – these are all part of your designer voice.
When tech editing a designer’s pattern, I will make suggestions on improving clarity, but I won’t do it at the expense of taking away what makes your patterns unique. For example, unless asked specifically, I usually don’t recommend alternative phrasing when I point out a potentially confusing instruction because then it would be my voice in your pattern, not yours. And it’s not my pattern, it’s your pattern, so that won’t do.
This all plays into the overall consistency of your pattern. If a knitter suddenly got to a part of the pattern that was totally different than the rest of the pattern, that would be pretty jarring, right? And we knit to relax and destress often, so we want to keep the pattern as easy to follow and read through as possible. The less frustration the knitter has, the better.
So this notion of preserving your unique voice when going through both the tech editing and test knitting process is important to preserve the consistency within the individual pattern, but also across all of your patterns.
Let me take off my tech editor’s hat and share some personal knitting experience.
There have been times I’ve knit a pattern and hated the way it was written and even though I might have liked the finished item, it didn’t make me run to that designer’s store to buy more of their patterns. In fact, if I came across designs from those designers again I probably would not want to purchase them, even if I loved the look of the finished object.
But there have been other times where I’ve knit a really well-written pattern and that made me want to make more of that designer’s patterns because I know they are also probably going to be well written.
The bottom line is that giving your customers a well-written and consistent pattern will probably make them a repeat customer.
Okay, tech editor hat is going back on…
These reasons that I’m bringing up are also why I’m so nitpicky when editing. If there’s an inconsistency, I’m going to spot it and I’m going to let you know about it. But I try to let you know about it in a way that lets you choose how to resolve it rather than me telling you what to do. For example, if you sometimes write “inches” and other times you put the inches symbol, I’ll note that, but I won’t tell you which one to choose.
Some specific ways that you can make sure your patterns have consistency include:
- Don’t swap back and forth between numerals and spelled out words (IE 2 vs two)
- Follow the same formatting rules throughout the pattern (IE subheading styles, pattern layout elements, fonts, font sizes)
- Don’t switch back and forth between abbreviated and unabbreviated words (IE “knit to end” vs “k to end”)
- Keep instructions for repeating rows written the same (IE don’t suddenly say “Repeat Row 1 ten more times” after writing “Work Row 1 eleven times total” throughout the rest of your pattern)
If you’ve worked with me before you know that I’m always pointing out inconsistencies, no matter how small they are. These are just the major ones I see the most.
This is also why having a style sheet, or at least a pattern template, can be really beneficially because it gives you a reference for how you’ve written or styled things in your previous patterns so that you can make sure you’re being consistent in those areas.
And if you feel like suggestions being made by either a tech editor or test knitter don’t fit in with your designer voice, you don’t have to accept them!
I hope this is helpful and allows you to bring more consistency into your knitting patterns!