Learning To Tech Edit: Sarah Inskeep

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?”

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

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!