Why you should stay in touch with your tech editor during testing

Tech editing is often completed before the pattern testing process begins. You design your pattern, you send it off to your editor, and once they’ve made all their edits, it’s ready to be sent off to testers, before finally being published.

But just because the tech editing process is over doesn’t mean you should stop communication with your tech editor!

Tech editors try their best to catch all the errors in your pattern, but we’re only human. It’s possible some things slip through the cracks.

If a tester finds what they believe is an error in a pattern I’ve edited, I would definitely want to be informed. Not only because I value the relationship with my designers and if I have missed something, I want to address it and also recheck other areas that might have related issues, but also because sometimes the tester is misinterpreting something or knitting the pattern wrong. I have definitely experienced the latter on a number of occassions.

By communicating with your editor, they can help you determine if something is an error and the pattern needs to be corrected, or if the pattern is right, but is written in a way that is causing people to knit the pattern wrong, in which case the wording needs work to make it more clear.

If your tester had presented you an error that wasn’t a pattern error, but a user error, and you ended up changing the pattern, you might have just introduced an error into your pattern.

Tech editing is meant to be a collaborative process, and one that doesn’t end with the end of the actual edit. Be in contact with your tech editor all the way through publication so you can be sure that any changes you make after the tech editor has done their work are cleared by the tech editor.

Many editors are more than happy to give your pattern a quick look right before you publish too. Just make sure to give them some notice so they can fit it into their schedule, and let them know what changes have been made so they know where to focus in on.

And a quick note on payment – sometimes these things happen after your tech editor has been paid for their work on the pattern. I obviously can’t speak for every tech editor out there, but I factor these things in when I set my rates. There are lots of things I can’t directly bill for, such as invoicing, project management, marketing, and other admin tasks, plus I know that sometimes an edit will take longer than I have quoted and I’ll typically eat that cost. All of those things, plus time spent communicating during testing, have already been factored into my rate, so as a client you should utilize this. Check with your tech editor before assuming, of course, but any freelancer likely sets their rates a little higher to cover this sort of stuff.

Why the conversion rate from inches to cm is different in the knitting world than the real world

Typically when you need to convert inches to cm, you can just multiply the number of inches by 2.54 because that is the number of centimeters in a single inch. But if you follow this standard math rule in your knitting patterns, it’ll lead to some trouble.

It’s an issue I’ve run across a lot when tech editing, especially when working with a new designer for the first time, because it’s just not something we may naturally consider. So I figured I’d write a blog post about it!

In knitting, we need to use a conversion rate of 2.5 instead in order to get the right numbers. Why is this? Well, think of how gauge is listed on a pattern. Gauge is most often given in a 4 x 4″ or 10 x 10 cm square. But actually if you were to convert those 4 inches to cm using the 2.54 rate, you’d end up with a gauge swatch that is 10.16 x 10.16 cm. Not exactly easy to count stitches/rows to the decimal like that. So rather than making knitters grab their magnifying glasses to measure how many stitches/rows are in 10.16 cm, we round down to an even 10, and then have to alter the conversion rate to match a ratio of 4:10, which is 2.5.

You might think that a .04 cm difference won’t cause too much trouble, but when you multiply that over multiple stitches and rows, it adds up. It might not be as big of an issue in your smallest sizes, but as the size of the garment increases, the difference between a cm measurement calculated with 2.54 versus one calculated with 2.5 will grow.

Let’s go through an example:

We’ll take a 60″ bust. If you’ve listed the bust measurement in cm based on a 2.54 conversion rate, it would come out to 152.5 cm (60 x 2.54). If instead you multiply 60 by 2.5, you get 150. So if you have 152.5 cm on your pattern and the sweater actually comes out to 150 cm, that’s an extra 2.5 cm of ease that the knitter wasn’t expecting.

It might not sound like a huge difference, but it does affect the larger sizes more than it will the smaller sizes, and with all the other issues with sizing and fit that fat knitters have to deal with in a lot of knitting patterns, this is a simple change you can make to get your measurements a little more accurate across measurement systems.

Things to think about when photographing your knits

I believe that photographs can be the most valuable asset in your marketing strategy for your knitting patterns. I know lots of designers say they wish they could spend time designing and less time having to market their designs, and having stunning photographs that draw people in is one way to cut down on that time.

Think about it: Pictures allow a knitter to see what the item they’re knitting will look like when completed. When someone is browsing through the seemingly infinite patterns available on Ravelry, the only thing that what will make them stop and click on your pattern is the photograph. As knitters, that’s all we see at first.

Sure, once we actually click on the listing and read the pattern details, we can also get hooked that way, but you have to actually get us to that point!

So make sure you’re taking great photos that showcase what the pattern looks like worn, shots from multiple angles, and close-ups of any stitch detailing you want to highlight. Flat lay photos are pretty on Instagram, but when people are picking out patterns to knit, they want to know how it’s going to look and fit when worn. 

I also really encourage you, especially for garment patterns, to showcase photos across your size range. One way we can be good stewards of size inclusivity is to actually showcase what the pattern looks like in different body types, especially fat bodies. Jen Parroccini recently put together a list of 45 actions we can do to be size inclusive, and this was one of the recommendations, but I’d also urge you to go check out the rest of her list here.

Beyond marketing, photographs can also be so important within the pattern itself. A knitter can compare their item to the photo if they’re worried they’re not doing something right. If there’s a particularly complicated lace pattern, a close up shot of the detailing can really help reassure a knitter they’re doing everything right. 

It’s really important that your photos accurately reflect your pattern, too. If you altered things in the written pattern after knitting your sample, but your photos don’t reflect those changes, that could cause issues. For example, if your beanie pattern shows a k1, p1 ribbing, but the photo shows a k3, p1 ribbing, that might cause a knitter to wonder which is correct.  Plus, it’s misleading. What if a certain element is what makes a knitter buy your pattern but then that element isn’t actuallly even in your pattern because you removed it from the instructions after knitting your sample? If I was that knitter, I’d be pretty pissed off.

Also, if you’re offering an item in multiple sizes / different yarn weights, indicate which one the photo shows. I was going to knit up a beanie pattern recently that was offered in a bunch of different weights but there was no note on what weight was pictured, and it was a stitch pattern that definitely would look different depending on which weight of yarn it was knit up with. So I never knit it.

Another thing I’d like to mention because I love to save paper/ink – I think it’s nice when the photos are all on one page rather than spread out throughout the pattern. That way people don’t have to waste ink printing photos on pattern pages. If they don’t want to print the photos, they can just not print certain pages. Obviously this is totally up to designer preference and it’s not something I’ve ever pointed out in an edit, but I just figured it’s something to think about. 

As for tips about taking photos… I’ve got nothing….

Preserving designer voice and style is an important part of consistency

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!

Excel functions to use when designing knitting patterns

Excel can be your best friend when you’re designing a pattern. Knowing the little tips and tricks that it offers can really make your life a whole lot easier.

In addition to the beauty of autofilling calculations across a range of sizes, there are several lesser known functions that you can be incorporating into your design work too.

I shared some of these on Instagram a few weeks ago, and I wanted to give these tips a more permanent home. Plus since you can’t really copy + paste from Instagram I hope this gives you more of an opportunity to make use of the functions I’m sharing.

So, without further delay, here are some of my favorite functions that I’m constantly making use of when tech editing knitting patterns.


Concatenate is awesome for transferring numbers out of your spreadsheet and into your pattern document. If you have your bust sizes listed in cells A1-J1, then using this formula will put them all together.  =CONCATENATE(A1,” (“, B1,”, “,C1,”, “,D1,”, “,E1,”, “,F1,”) [“, G1,”, “,H1,”, “,I1,”, “,J1,”]” )  This formula then output the contents of these cells as 30 (32, 34, 36, 38, 40) [44, 50, 56, 60]. Then you can just copy and paste right into your pattern.

This is great because it can also cut down on the potential for you accidentally writing the wrong number, thus cutting down on pattern errors and your overall tech editing bill.


You can also go the other way with the SPLIT function. =SPLIT(A3, “( , ) [ ]”). A3 is where my previous CONCATENATE is. The symbols in the quotes are what you want the program to ignore. This is useful for taking things out of your pattern and putting them into your spreadsheet. I’d say this one is probably more useful for tech editors and the concatenate is more useful for designers. 

Renaming cells

You can rename cells. I always rename the cells that store gauge information. So rather than having to refer to B3 and C3 for stitch and row gauge, I rename them “sts” and “rows”. You rename a cell by going to the toolbar just above and where it says the current cell name (like A1), you can type whatever you want in there.

Rounding to stitch repeat multiples

MROUND is a great function to use when you need to fit your stitch counts around a certain multiple. For example, if I have a stitch pattern that is a multiple of 25 and I want to determine what my cast on number should be, I could use MROUND to make this easier.

=MROUND((B5*sts), 25)

In this example, I’m multiplying my 1″ stitch gauge by my bust circumference to determine the number of stitches. This is the first parameter of the function. Then the second parameter, I’ve put 25 because I want it to round the number of stitches to the nearest 25.

Without MROUND, multiplying my bust circumference of 30 with my stitch gauge of 4.75 would result in 142.5, and then I would have to manually round up to 150. But here the function takes care of that step for us.

This can also be useful in rounding measurements. You can use it to round your inches/cm to the nearest .5, for example.

The $ symbol

The dollar sign is your friend. If you want to autofill a formula, but want to refer to a single cell rather than it taking the corresponding cell from a different row or column, use $. So putting $A$1 into your formula will make it always refer to that cell, whereas if you just put A1 and autofill across multiple columns then it would autofill as B1, C1, D1, etc, which you might not necessarily want. I used to use this all the time when referencing gauge before I learned you could rename cells, but there are other times I use it too. 

Pasting without formatting

One final thing is pasting without formatting. Using ctrl + v pastes something you’ve copied without formatting. This is useful if you want to copy numbers only. If you just do a normal copy + paste, it’ll copy the formula, whereas this just keeps the final value. Useful if you, like me, end up with messy spreadsheets when all is said and done and you want to copy important numbers and group them all together at the end of the spreadsheet to make it easier to view.

All about clarity in knitting patterns

When you think of tech editors, do you think of someone sitting at their computer, staring at an Excel spreadsheet for hours? You’d probably be right, but that’s not the only thing we do! Of course we check that the numbers in a pattern is correct, but another important part of tech editing is improving pattern clarity.

So what is pattern clarity? One way to think about it is how easy it is to understand your pattern. Can a knitter give your pattern a read and automatically understand exactly what you’re telling them to do? Then that’s a clear pattern, and you’re good to go. The opposite of this would be a pattern that is constantly tripping your knitter up, making them scratch their heads, or sending them searching for your contact information so they can ask you what the heck you meant.

I’ve knit patterns where things weren’t clear and it just made me frustrated and made me not want to ever knit patterns from that designer again. It’s never fun to be confused and then worrying you’re knitting something up wrong because you just can’t make sense of the instructions. 

One example that comes to mind is when instructions say to repeat a set of rows. Depending on how it’s worded, you could interpret that as repeating x MORE times or repeating x TOTAL times. If instructions are vague then it’ll be tricky to decipher what you intended. (I’m a fan of either saying “work x total times” or “repeat x more times,” never “repeat x times” because what does that even mean??)

When you’re writing a knitting pattern, you have to go above and beyond just explaining what you did when you knit your sample. Just because something makes sense to you doesn’t mean it will make sense to the knitter. 

It’s important to be as clear as possible in your instructions, so that things aren’t being misinterpreted. 

One way to improve clarity is to read through your pattern as if you were knitting it. Can you follow it based solely on what’s written and not take advantage of the extra knowledge you have of the pattern in your mind? If the answer is no, you need to get that info from your brain onto the page and fill in the gaps of information that is missing. When we write instructions down, sometimes we make assumptions of what the person reading knows and leave important bits out, so taking a look at it with a detached mindset can help you determine what needs to be cleaned up and added.

This doesn’t mean every single piece of information from your brain goes onto the page. There’s a fine line between providing too much information and not enough. Include too much information and the knitter will just skim past it, but include too little and they might not have enough information to actually knit the item. 

The language you include in your pattern is so important. When you’re reviewing your pattern, take a deep look at the language you’re using. Are there areas where things can be phrased more concisely without losing their meaning? Are there areas where a little more explanation is needed? Can things be cut altogether

See how all of a sudden I started bolding things? That was to showcase one way you can have readability while still including lots of information. If you absolutely need to include a long paragraph of instructions, playing with the formatting can help your knitter make sense of it more easily. Bold the really important things, break stuff up into smaller paragraphs, etc. A recent episode of Tech Tip Talk with knitwear and graphic designer Erin Clayton as the guest gave lots of useful advice on how pattern layout can contribute to clarity.

This is hard work – especially on your own words – but it’s so worth it. Finding that right balance of information will ensure that your pattern flows, is easily readable, and most importantly, provides a good experience for the knitters because they don’t have to spend too much time reading or being confused. 

Things to check before sending your pattern to a tech editor

When I’m tech editing, I’m always conscious of the fact that the longer I take to edit, the more it will cost the designer. More errors in a pattern means I’m going to have to spend more time writing notes, and that time does add up.

So before you send your pattern off to a tech editor, give it a look to make sure you’ve listed all the correct information, and that all the information a knitter needs is also there.

Here’s a list of things I consider to be important on a pattern. If these things are missing, I’ll make note of it. So including them before you send over your pattern helps cut down on the notes I make.

  • Pattern name / designer name listed on the pattern
  • Needles
    • Size?
    • Type? DPNs, circulars, straight needles? If circulars, what cable length is needed?
  • Yarn
    • Specify what weight is needed
    • Specify what brand and line of yarn if you have a suggested yarn
    • Have a note about what colorway your sample is knitted in
  • Notions
    • Generally this includes things like a darning needle, stitch markers, and blocking materials
  • Finished sizes and to-fit measurements (if applicable)
    • Include both inches and cm, but make sure when you’re converting from inches to cm you multiply by 2.5, not 2.54.
  • Gauge
    • Your gauge section should specify what stitch pattern gauge is in, if it’s knit flat or in the round, and if measurements are taken pre- or post-blocking.
  • Abbreviations
    • Make sure you update this! A common mistake I see is that designers will use a template for their patterns and forget to add new abbreviations in or remove ones that aren’t in the pattern.
    • There are two ways to organize your abbreviations: alphabetically or by section (IE increases/decreases go together, stitch marker abbreviations go together, other similar types of stitches go together – I would suggest only doing this if you have 10 or fewer abbreviations in your list). As an editor (and as a knitter), I prefer alphabetical because it’s just easier to find what I’m looking for.
  • The pattern instructions itself
    • Make sure you have cast on / bind off instructions
  • Finishing details
    • Notes on weaving in loose ends
    • Specify if the item needs to be blocked.

Inconsistencies in knitting patterns

Last month I decided to switch things up by publishing my monthly blog post as an Instagram post. I thought maybe the content I had prepared would be well suited to images, so I figured I’d give it a go. People seemed to like it — in fact it’s probably my most-liked Instagram post ever, so I wanted to publish it in a written format too since people found it so useful.

So in this post I’m going to point out some common inconsistencies I see designers use in knitting patterns. To make your pattern look professional, I think it’s important that you are consistent in how you write things out. My philosophy as a tech editor is that I usually don’t mind how you write something as long as it’s consistent throughout the pattern.

Here are some inconsistencies to be mindful of. The problem areas are underlined.


R1: K3, p to 3 sts from end of row, k3. 

R3: k3, p to 3 sts from end of row, K3. 

If you capitalize the first instruction in a row, you should do the same for every row. Likewise, if “k” is lowercase it should always be lowercase. 

Abbreviating vs spelling out

R1: K3, p to 3 stitches from end of row, k3. 

R3: K3, purl to 3 sts from end of row, k3.

If you use “k” as an abbreviation for “knit” always use “k” throughout the pattern. Don’t switch back and forth! If it’s in your abbreviation section, why not abbreviate it? The most common misuse I tend to see is switching back and forth between sts/stitches.

Spelling out numbers

R1: K3, p to three sts from end of row, k3. 

R3: K3, p to 3 sts from end of row, k3.

Another inconsistency is switching between writing numbers and spelling out the number. I typically advise clients to just write the number because when you’re glancing at the pattern while knitting, it’s quicker for your eyes to find a number than to have to read words. 


R1: K3, p to 3 sts from end of row, k3. 

R3: K3, p to 3 sts from end of row, k3;

R1: K3, *p. Rep from * to 3 sts from end of row, k3. 

R3: K3, *p; Rep from * to 3 sts from end of row, k3. 

Keep your punctuation consistent. If you use periods to end your rows, do it always. If you use semi-colons, always use them. 

Listing multiple rows

R1&3: K3, p to 3 sts from end of row, k3. 

R5,6: K3, p to 3 sts from end of row, k3;

R9-11: K3, p to 3 sts from end of row, k3;

Make sure the punctuation you use to denote multiple rows is also consistent! 


These are just a few of the common inconsistencies I spot over and over in patterns. I recommend you take a look at your patterns and see if you can spot things that are written out different ways in different spots. 

Information about my tech editing services is available here.

My path into tech editing

I was inspired to share some details about my journey into tech editing by a recent blog post on the Tech Editor Hub website about how to become a tech editor. When I first started becoming interested in editing there were only a handful of resources I could find on how to become a tech editor so I hope that someone who is looking for the same knowledge I was earlier this year finds this helpful.

I’d heard of tech editing long before I got into it, but had only a vague understanding of what it was. I knew it was proofreading, but also something to do with math.

I’d been knitting sporadically since college, but during the pandemic I found myself without a commute and with a lot more free time so I got back into knitting more regularly. I created an Instagram to share my knits and through that I started getting into test knitting. One time after submitting my feedback, the designer messaged me saying that I always caught things that others missed. Very soon after I started considering learning how to edit patterns so I could actually get paid for it, and I began researching how I to tech edit patterns. Turns out it’s a lot more than just checking grammar and counting things…

At first I found only a few courses, but they seemed pretty pricy to me, and being both 1) a frugal person and 2) someone who cycles through hobbies quickly, I was hesitant to spend hundreds of dollars on a course for something I didn’t even know if I’d be able to make money doing. Luckily at the same time I stumbled upon an upcoming workshop Wool Enthusiast was doing. $35. That was a less scary initial investment…

The workshop was two hours long and the instructor, Luke Gilligan, worked through a pattern basically showing us how he goes through a tech edit. I found it really helpful at the time and it convinced me tech editing was something I wanted to go forward with. So I started with some practice patterns that Luke offered, then I tech edited some older patterns that I’d written, and created a simple little website to list my services, fees, and how to get in touch.

To get my first few clients, I posted on Ravelry offering to edit patterns for free in exchange for testimonials for my website. That way, I figured at least if I was bad at it, no one could be *too* upset because they were basically getting a free edit. I probably would have done these free edits for longer than I planned, but then a designer reached out to me through my website asking for a quote and when I told her I’d do it for free if she wrote me a testimonial, she told me she’d be happy to write me something, but that I also deserved to be paid for my work. I’m so glad she said that because it really did give me the confidence to go ahead and start actually charging for my work.

After I’d edited a few patterns for a few different designers, I was feeling good, but felt like there was still some uncertainty in my skills. I also figured if I ever wanted to edit garments I’d need to take a course since the workshop was focused on accessories and just thinking about sweater math made my brain hurt. I decided to finally purchase a larger course, since at that point I’d had a few clients and had edited a few patterns and was more confident in my ability to make back the cost of the course through editing. I decided to go with the Learn to Tech Edit course from the Tech Editor Hub.

(For reference, it was probably two or three months between that initial workshop and taking the Learn to Tech Edit course).

After I took this second course I felt waaaay more confident in myself. The workshop was great and definitely helped me with those first few edits, but in this new course I was able to build on that knowledge. I also am a hands-on learner so having assignments that I could work through and being able to compare my edits against a real tech editor’s edit made me feel a lot more sure of my skills. I even realized that I was overediting things before because I was so scared I was missing something.

It’s been about half a year since I began this journey and I’m focusing on continuing to grow my tech editing business. Some things I’ve found helpful to get new clients have been being active on Instagram and following other designers (one of my biggest clients found me through Instagram!), that initial Ravelry post, and being referred by existing clients.

Other resources I found helpful at the start include:

  • Kate Atherley’s book: The Beginner’s Guide to Writing Knitting Patterns: Learn to Write Patterns Others Can Knit.
  • Tech Tip Talk from Sarah Walworth and Kristina McGrath (they occur once a month and you can submit your own questions for them to answer. All past ones are on YouTube and I definitely binged them!)
  • Downloading patterns – I downloaded a bunch of free patterns that I wasn’t planning on knitting from really popular designers to become more familiar with pattern writing.
  • The Tech Editor Hub Facebook group is a great place to ask questions and get advice as well.
  • Google is your friend! If you’re going through a pattern and you’re not sure about something, you can probably find your answer in a blog post or video tutorial online.

I hope someone finds this helpful! If you’re interested in becoming a tech editor and are looking for advice on getting started, feel free to reach out to me with questions.

Tech Editing vs. Test Knitting: What’s the difference?

The first time I ever test knit a pattern I had so much fun. I got a free pattern, got to chat with fellow knitters who were all working on the same thing, and I got to be a grammar nerd. Since my day job is in journalism, being a grammar nerd is my default state, and proofreading stuff is one of my favorite parts of the job.

When I first started test knitting for designers and one of the questions they asked was if we found any typos, I would give them a long list of all the grammatical errors and formatting issues I found. For a while I thought that’s what test knitting was. Then I discovered tech editing and realized what I had been doing was encroaching more into tech editing than test knitting. Of course, I learned there’s a whole lot more to tech editing than just correcting grammar, but I still felt like I had been blurring the lines between the two without even realizing.

Now that I’m also a tech editor, I think the difference is a bit more clear. I will attempt to lay out the differences here.

What does a test knitter do?

Test knitters go through a pattern and actually knit the piece up. By knitting through the pattern, they can point out any issues you might not have thought of, as well as provide useful information like how much yarn they used, their finished measurements, etc.

What does a tech editor do?

Tech editors go through your pattern and look at a number of different things. Perhaps most importantly is they will double check all your math. For example when I edit a pattern I’ll plug the row instructions into Excel and make sure the number of stitches that row produces matches what’s in the pattern. They will also go through and check that the gauge you specified combined with your stitch/row counts would produce an item of the size you specified.

In addition to making sure all the technical elements of a pattern are correct, tech editors also go through a pattern and edit it for clarity, make sure things are consistent throughout, make sure the pattern includes all the information needed to actually knit the pattern, and point out any grammatical errors.

Differences between tech editing and test knitting


Tech editors charge for their services, while test knitters are often doing it for free (i.e. in exchange for a free pattern).

Typical tech editing rates range from $25-$40 USD.

Test knitters are often compensated with free patterns.

When do they each occur in the design process?

You might think that tech editing would come after test knitting because often a lot of changes are made to a pattern document during the testing process. But I’d recommend tech editing your pattern before sending it off to test knitters.

Your test knitters are volunteering their time so I think it’s just respectful of their time to give them a pattern that you’re confident is correct. You don’t want to send them a pattern with a mistake in row 33 after they’ve already spent an hour or two knitting.

Your tech editor might also make suggestions on re-wording things that might cause confusion before a test knitter even gets it. This allows your test knitters to focus on providing the best feedback because simple things might already have been addressed.

Do I need both?

As a tech editor I should say YES you should always have a tech editor look over your pattern. However, as I mentioned above tech editors aren’t cheap and I can understand that new designers might not be able to justify the cost of a tech editor for the number of sales they might get for each pattern.

I don’t think not getting your pattern tech edited means your pattern is bad or that you’re a bad designer. I’d say that for accessories like hats and scarves you can probably get away with not tech editing as long as you’ve had it test knit.

For a garment with multiple sizes I’d say it’s probably a very, very good idea. Imagine you release a sweater pattern with an error halfway through it. Your knitters are probably going to be pretty upset that they just spent so much time working on this sweater that now has to be frogged back. Or imagine your size calculations are off and your knitters are making sweaters too small for them! They probably won’t buy your next pattern.

I would also say you should get patterns test knitted. Having someone actually knit up your pattern can provide you with valuable feedback. If your test knitters are struggling with a certain part of the pattern, chances are the people buying your pattern will too. It’s best to know that stuff up front so you can improve the pattern before publishing.

So yes, both are valuable.

Finished measurements/yardage

With test knitting you have the benefit of someone actually knitting up your pattern. This means you can ask what their finished measurements are and how much yarn they used. You can then use that information to come up with an average among knitters, which can be compared to what you wrote on the pattern.

Designers making garment patterns should ideally get at least one tester per size so that they can confirm that the finished item closely matches what they intended.

Tech editors also check this kind of information, but it’s done with a calculator, not by actually knitting the item. Tech editors will use the gauge provided to check the finished measurements.

Overlap between the two

Despite their differences, there are a few places in which I feel tech editing and test knitting overlap. One element of tech editing is editing for clarity. In other words, ensuring that a designer’s intent is clear to the knitter. When editing if I see an instruction that could be cleaned up to make it less likely to confuse someone, I’ll make that suggestion.

This kind of feedback is also gathered when test knitting. As a tester is knitting up a project they can point of the areas they struggled with, which the designer can then use to update the pattern.

I also think pointing out typos is fine in test knitting. I think some would say it’s not the tester’s responsibility, and while that’s mostly true, if you happen to see an error I think it’s helpful to point it out. When I’m testing I’m not going to go through the pattern document end-to-end against my tech editing checklist like I would if I was editing the pattern, but if I happen to see a word spelled incorrectly I’m not going to not point it out.

What you get from each process

To sum things up, here’s what you can expect to receive from the test knitting and tech editing processes:

Test knitters

  • Find the parts of your pattern where knitters might struggle.
  • Help with pattern promotion by sharing photos of their WIPs/finished objects.
  • Can provide information on actual finished measurements, yardage, etc.

Tech editors

  • Ensure that math is correct.
  • Make suggestions on improving clarity.
  • Make sure all necessary information is on the pattern (all abbreviations used are actually defined, gauge is listed, materials are all there, etc).
  • Correct grammatical errors.
  • Ensure pattern information adheres to industry standards.

Hopefully this clears up some of the confusion you might have had between these two steps in the pattern design process!