Reviewing (in style)


A Ravelry thread last month sparked a lot of comments regarding magazine work and style sheets, and since I’ve recently had to review a lot of my own patterns, I thought there’d be no better way to make some sort of impact in favor of style sheets than writing about it.

As I’ve mentioned, I have an upcoming collection in Knit Now – issue 38, to be precise! The page proofs are slowly coming in and with them:

My very last chance to review what the technical editors have changed, whether it’s correct and confirm I fully agree with it.

During the editing process, several things happen:

  • The editor will skim through the pattern to see if it’s in style: this doesn’t happen on all magazines due to workload.
  • The Technical Editor will read the pattern. They will attempt to understand how you constructed your piece, and see if there’s any big issues that need attention. My most recent case, a schematic without sleeve length, no length on the pattern either, and sleeves turned up on a photoshoot. This took me to question: were the sleeves intended to be turned up? was it a style choice? what was the actual length the designer aimed for?
  • After all the questions are answered, we will comb through the pattern in depth. We will re-work all the math to see if the numbers are correct as outlined. We will question whether something in the pattern needs re-writing to be clearer, whether the pattern repeats are spot-on, etc. These questions need to be crystal clear for us to create a document that leads to no questions from the knitters.
  • Once the math, the flow and the questions are sorted, we ensure the writing and explanations are in style.
  • The project will be reviewed again, most likely by a Copy Editor or another Technical Editor, to confirm the style is set.

You can probably imagine how long that can take, which is why adhering to a stylesheet as provided by your magazine or book publisher is crucial. The more a TE/CE has to re-write, style and rebuild your pattern, the more chances there are for other details to go unnoticed.

Some notes are best hand-written

How do I go about the review process?

When I see my page proofs arrive for review, I open 3 windows:

  1. the pdf document as presented by the magazine
  2. the word document I sent in to the editing team
  3. my spreadsheet and calculations

I go line by line, through the PDF and word document. I see the changes made:

  • Is it a change due to style? I cringed when I saw “BO” on my document, when I know that Knit Now uses Cast Off. I can’t possibly question this change and I’m so cross with myself that I didn’t catch that!
  • Is it a change in math? Why is this so? Review the spreadsheet. Who is correct? Why? Discuss with your editor and technical editor, if you have questions.
  • The wording in my pattern has changed dramatically? Why is this so? Did they find a better way to explain a technique? Did their in-house technique person think there was a better way and even better, a shorter way to say the same thing?
  • Are my charts and schematics the same? Many magazines recreate the charts so the artwork is cohesive. If the chart is flat, are there numbers on both sides of the chart? If only RS is charted, is there a note about WS?
  • Is ALL the crucial information present? Needle size, yarn information, yardage, gauge…

Here is the kicker – we all have OUR ways to write patterns. We are set in our ways, many of us use self-publishing and it influences our pattern writing. However, the editing team has a style sheet for a reason, and the cohesiveness of the publication is a very important piece in this puzzle. When the designer deliberately ignores the stylesheet and chooses to “pass it on, because the TEs are paid for it“, the editors take notice, because being a team player, being gracious, being conscious and being helpful when working in a team…those are very desirable traits.

Reviewing my notes before I send a pattern

I’m witness to many designers who either don’t review their patterns after layout, or they simply think “the TEs and CEs have been through it, I’m sure it’s correct”. I cannot even tell you how many times that lax attitude leads to print errors, and how it diminishes the trust and collaborative effort we (publishing team) make when publishing a pattern from a designer.

I am not speaking on behalf of any of my employers, but I sincerely believe that when push comes to shove, a good team player who answers questions in a timely manner, writes patterns to specifications and is every bit as committed to doing a good job as those of us “behind the scenes” are, will always be hired above the person who doesn’t care, ignores emails and prefers to put their needs above everyone else’s.

What do you think of your own working ethic? Are you doing the bare minimum? Are you pushing to be the best?