Saturday, June 11, 2011

Reader Mail: How to become a tech editor

A reader commented on my post about my technical editing work, asking how one becomes a tech editor.

There are two parts to this: how you get the required experience to be able to proudly describe yourself as a tech editor, and how you find the work?

How to get some experience and learn the trade:
1. Well, ok, the first one is obvious, but you should knit a lot. Knit from other people's patterns, all sorts of garments and accessories and items. Knit patterns published in different countries - UK standards can be very different than US standards; knit from European patterns - very, very different. Knit from different books and magazines and designers. And knit as many different things as you can, so that you're familiar with all sorts of garment constructions and types of patterns. A sock tech editor, for example, needs to know how to do toe-up and top-down.

2. Do some sample and test knitting. Designers are always looking for people (yes, me too!) to produce samples and to test knit patterns to review the instructions. This gets you in the position of being able to see patterns as they develop, and to provide feedback on how a pattern is written. Test knit instructions can often be rougher, less well articulated, than final patterns - and this gives you a chance to review for mistakes and missing info, and think through a pattern and how it can best be written.

3. Write some patterns of your own. You don't necessarily have to be designing complex garments, but write out a pattern for your favourite scarf or hat. Next time you make an on-the-fly modification to a pattern, write it down and then write the pattern for what you did.

3. i) When writing up a pattern, use formats/templates from different publications as a guide.

5. And last but not least, attend my "Writing Up A Awesome Sock Pattern" class at Sock Summit... You know, if you happen to be in Portland this summer.

As to finding the work, as with most things, it's about putting yourself in opportunity's way. Make contacts; get to know designers, through Ravelry, meeting them at local events, taking their classes. Talk the them! Volunteer your time - as a test knitter, as a tech editor, as a proofreader. Trust me, any designer will be thrilled with an offer of test knitting, and will be very grateful.

On that note... I've got a shawl pattern I need a sample worked up from... anyone?


Unknown said...

Me! I am in a shawl knitting phase, so I am game. I have been knitting for 11 years, have taught classes in a shop and at fiber festivals, and have written patterns, so I am able to navigate any pattern thrown my way.

contact me at chrisknitz at insightbb dot com Not sure my Google Account info has contact info.

Robin said...

Thank you!

Sheherazade said...

If you need someone else to test knit your shawl, I'm willing. I've been knitting for 50 yrs. and have only been stumped by one pattern. An European pattern for a knitted pony. I just could not figure that thing out. lol. I'm also between projects right now so I'm looking for something to knit. I also live close to Toronto so it's convenient for both of us.

You can contact me below if you think I can help.

swujek1109 at rogers dot com

deirdre said...

Hi, Kate, I'd be happy to help with your shawl, if you are still in need... I've done test knitting for several years, and am in Burlington so not too far away...

Anonymous said...

Great post! I just finished my first technical editing class and am increasingly becoming an obsessive knitter. Naturally, I want some way to combine these two interests; it's great to know it's possible.

I would love to test knit a shawl for you. I am "justflo" on Ravelry.


Debra said...

I have just completed 5 of Wendy Johnson's shawls and found errors in herpaterns not previously found by her test knitters. I would love to knit for you.

Sarah V. said...

I know this post is quite old, but just wanted to say thank you for putting this information out there! I've been doing test knitting and pattern proofreading for the last year or so, and really really enjoying it - I've been wondering what it takes to get into tech editing, and this post is extremely useful!