Learning To Tech Edit: Sarah Inskeep

I'm taking on clients! You can find and/or contact me on: Website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

I'm taking on clients! You can find and/or contact me on: WebsiteFacebookInstagramTwitter

 

Hello, I’m Sarah! It has always been my dream to run my own business in the knitting and fibre arts industry. I love details of any kind and I’ve always been fascinated with understanding how garment construction works. I also love everything about knitting and enjoy analysing the patterns that I knit. Additionally, technical writing is a big part of my job and one that I really enjoy. So when I came across Joeli’s Learn To Tech Edit course I thought “What could possibly be better then technical editing combined with knitting?”

At first, I hesitated a little bit due to the cost. But as I searched for information, tools & resources, I found that there was hardly any information out there on technical editing as applied to knitting. Joeli's course is the most complete, thoroughly organised, and best presented resource available. Her open and professional manner were very reassuring and after finishing the course, I believe I may have gotten the better end of that bargain!

One of my biggest takeaways from this learning process was: Math is my friend! Although I studied accounting as part of my degree in college, and work in the financial services industry, I was never a natural at higher math and therefore have always felt a bit intimidated by math in general. In technical editing, however, math is your most essential tool and I've found it to be a comforting constant rather than an obstacle! All in all, I find it very empowering to use math so effectively.

The most difficult thing for me about the course was finding the time to do my homework. Since I work full-time, live out in the country in the middle of nowhere, and have a husband (and, at the time, a pet angora rabbit) to take care of (like having two kids!)... time was at a premium. I found that I had to give up most of the little downtime I have every week to work on my homework, but it was totally worth it! I found the homework to be interesting as well as fun, and the skills and experience I gained are invaluable! 

I was so relieved to learn that being a technical editor does NOT need to put you in opposition to designers. It is working FOR designers to HELP them verify and polish their patterns for publishing. I had been a little concerned at first about coming across as a bossy know-it-all, or that my comments might make designers feel I was attacking their work. Joeli not only teaches but demonstrates how to interact with designers professionally in a way that communicates respect but is also helpful and accurate. I found that both exciting and reassuring!

After completing the course, I feel that I have options and an opportunity to start making my dream of running my own business in the knitting industry come alive! I am still working full-time but I do technical editing on the side and plan to expand in the future. To anyone considering taking Learn to Tech Edit I would say: "If you're serious about learning technical editing, then Go For It!" This course is worth the time, effort, and money because it really does give you not only the skills and knowledge you need, but actual practice as well as a supportive community and additional resources for the future!

Questions from the audience (these were sent in as suggestions for students to answer):

Q: In magazines [and all editing jobs], there is always the danger that the tech editor makes the pattern worse by editing [or introducing mistakes, or missing things] – how would you prevent that?

A: Some of the best tools for preventing/catching any mistakes that I may make or miss as a tech editor include: Being an avid knitter my self, I do have a good solid knowledge of how knitting techniques and patterns work. This is essential for good tech editing. Also, a designer is never required to accept any of the edits I may suggest. Power rests with the designer, as the pattern is, after all, his/her work. If something seems off about one of my edits, the designer is absolutely free to ignore it, and/or, contact me to ask about it if he/she wishes. Communication is always vital and I welcome questions and interaction with designers regarding the edits I suggest for their patterns. Further, it is my practice once I've completed an edit, to take a break and then go over the pattern one final time in order to catch any mistakes I may have made or missed. And let's not forget that there is inestimable value in utilising the community of knitting pattern tech editors Joeli has built. If I have a question about some aspect of a pattern, I have a direct line to others in my field who may have more experience with that particular item than I do.

Q: Do you think tech editing is necessary? Why do you think it is useful?

A: Anyone can write a knitting pattern, but not all patterns are created equal. Tech editing is not required, however, I do believe it is essential to producing a professional high quality, highly sought after pattern. This is because tech editing provides another perspective on the information - a second set of eyes looking, a second brain thinking, asking questions, and evaluating options. Often, when I write my own patterns, I am so ready to be done that I don't have the patience or focus required for the detailed analysis needed to perfect a pattern. Patterns that have been tech edited are more accurate, polished, and professional. This gives them greater value, which in turn boosts both the designer's reputation and revenue.

Have you got a question for students/tech editors? Send it in!

Lunchtime With Joeli: Talking About Goals

 
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Welcome to Lunchtime with Joeli -- a series where I spend 5 minutes answering your questions and discussing issues related to being an entrepreneur in the yarn/craft industry. If you have questions you would like me to answer you can leave them in the comments or send them to hello @ joelicreates.com.

If you enjoy these videos you can subscribe to my YouTube channel by clicking the red button on this page

If you want to get email notifications of when there are new videos up you have to two options:

Option 1 -- Once you've subscribed to my channel, go to your YouTube settings, then click "emails". Click "Manage updates from channels you're subscribed to" then check the button that says "send me updates" and change the dropdown box to "uploads only".  (Video tutorial)

Option 2 -- Sign up to a mailing list just for YouTube updates here.

5 Essential Tools For Tech Editors

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1. A WAY OF ANNOTATING PDFS

Some designers may want you to work with a text editor but I find that working that way leads to a lot of compatibility issues. (Don’t ask me about the time I sent a file to a client and all the commas disappeared when she opened it!) Evernote is my preferred software but you do have to pay for the premium service. The other option that I love is iAnnotate. This is an app for iPhones and iPads — great for if you like to edit on the go!

WORD OF WARNING: If you use an Adobe product to annotate PDFs your notes may not show up when the designer opens it in a different program. There are usually ways to “flatten” the notes to avoid this problem and something you should definitely test out with a friend first!

2. A WAY OF TRACKING TIME

I am a massive fan of the pomodoro technique. I think this works great for managing your workflow because it’s so simple. If you have to give a time estimate I think it’s really easy to underestimate but judging how many chunks of time it’ll take gives a more reasonable estimate. So I give each editing job an estimate in terms of pomodoros and then I look at how much time do I have to work on editing jobs each day. This helps me estimate which jobs I can fit in and when. I then time myself (you can use a timer on your phone or a special pomodoro app) and see how accurate I was. This also lets me know how much time to bill the client for!
TIP: Make sure to include the time it takes to email the designer in your estimate, even if you don’t bill them for this time.

3. A WAY OF INVOICING

I send all my invoices using Paypal and this works fine for me. I simply download my reports every month and add my income into my financial spreadsheet. If you want something with a bit more functionality, a service like Harvest can work great.

4. A WAY TO MAKE CHARTS

If offering charts is something you want to do then Stitchmastery is the way to go. It’s a highly respected chart making software used by many knitting magazines and book publishers. The nice thing about Stitchmastery is that it generates the written instructions for the charts which is super handy. It also exports the charts to a wide variety of formats including .SVG and .PDF.

5. A WAY TO MAKE SCHEMATICS

Offering to make schematics for designers is another service you might want to consider (and something that can be required if you work with yarn companies or magazines). You can use programs like Adobe Illustrator, but in this case there is an excellent free alternative —Inkscape. I have a tutorial here on how to use Inkscape to make schematics or you can purchase my bundle of premade schematics which you are welcome to use with clients. (You will of course have to learn how to modify and tweak them to fit the design but they serve as a good starting point.)

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9 Tools to Get You Started Designing

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  1. Yarn and needles

    This is a little obvious but well, this is where you have to start! I like to have a wide variety of yarns to play with and a good interchangeable needle set. 
  2. At least one stitch dictionary

    This will be an essential tool to help you when you are thinking about and swatching for potential designs. You will probably still end up tweaking any stitch pattern you find, but it’s a great source of inspiration. 
  3. Layout software

    Once you get the design sorted the next step is to lay out the pattern. I think a lot of people think they need something fancy but to be honest most patterns are laid out just using simple word processing software. Microsoft Word or Pages are great options.
  4.  A simple camera

    You will need at least one photo for your pattern and so you’ll have to have a camera or borrow one. Nowadays the cameras on your phone are amazing and that might be all you need. Or you might want to invest in a simple point and shoot. But whatever you decide, don’t get hung up on this step! You just need a camera that is good enough and that will take a photo that is good enough. You are at the beginning — do not try to mimic the types of photographs that seasoned designers are using. They are further on their journey then you are. You just need to start.
  5. A tech editor

    You want to make sure your pattern is free from errors and to do that you’ll want to hire a tech editor. This post explains what a tech editor does and how it’s different from test knitting and you can find a list of tech editors here.
  6. A way of selling

    So you have your pattern written and laid out and now you have this PDF that you are ready to sell. What do you do with it? You can list it for sale on Ravelry, Craftsy, Love Knitting, Etsy or any or all of the above. Take a look into each site and the fees and T&Cs. I personally prefer Ravelry and Love Knitting but that’s just me.
  7. A way of collecting payments

    Basically you need to have a Paypal account which will hook up with the above sites so they can send you the payments. That’s it! No fancy cart software on your site is needed unless you want to go that option.

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Stitch Dictionary Recommendations

Whether you're new to knitting design or already established, these are my top stitch dictionary recommendations. 

If you enjoy these videos you can subscribe to my YouTube channel by clicking the red button on this page

If you want to get email notifications of when there are new videos up you have to two options:

Option 1 -- Once you've subscribed to my channel, go to your YouTube settings, then click "emails". Click "Manage updates from channels you're subscribed to" then check the button that says "send me updates" and change the dropdown box to "uploads only".  (Video tutorial)

Option 2 -- Sign up to a mailing list just for YouTube updates here.