Blog Tour – Louet. Technical Editing within a collection


As many of you already know, a part of my career and most of my mornings is spent working with designers, yarn companies, and magazines as a technical editor.

I’ve spoken several times on what makes a technical editor an invaluable resource to your business, how they can improve your pattern writing, and a bit of the behind the scenes magazine work, relating to style sheet use. But for this particular post, I will discuss what a TE does in conjunction with other team members to create the final patterns in a collection.

Ewyn by Susanna IC. Photography (c) Louet North America & Caro Sheridan

When a new client wants to work with me, there’ll be several things I will consider to ensure work can actually happen:

I need to be able to have a stylesheet to follow – this will ensure the entire collection looks and feels the same from the knitter’s point of view. The abbreviations are consistent, the words are similar and we use the same styling throughout.

I need to know what their requirements are regarding sizing – how big and how small are garments meant to be? How many sizes is acceptable for accessories? Will they ok one-size-only things?

I need to be able to contact the designers and I would like to have a representative for questions and disputes. Being in contact with the designers directly is crucial for me, since otherwise I’d be sending messages to someone who will just forward it on to the designer and things can get lost in translation. Mediation from a representative is also good – just like when in a magazine the editor will play a role deciding whose opinion matters most, in a collection there needs to be one helm to drive the workflow, someone who has already been in contact with designers, who knows the work they sent in, and who can advise on tricky situations.

(c) Louet North America & Caro Sheridan

Emin by Anne Podlesak. Photography (c) Louet North America & Caro Sheridan

Once all the patterns are in, we will do a quick sweep: How many are in style. How many need more sizes. How many are missing crucial elements (like gauge!!). Contact designers, rinse and repeat.

When we have all the details we need, we can start by stripping the style on the patterns. I usually select all, convert fonts and styles to MY default Body style: Arial regular (no bold, no italics, no underlines) 11pt, 1.5 line spacing and zero space before/after paragraph. That is the cleanest set-up for me to work with. I start Track Changes and set it to “show Final without deletions”.

When that’s done, I start converting headers to capitals, adding line breaks for me to “see” parts of the pattern. I skim through the pattern and pick on stuff I can tell needs to be reworked. I tend to count sizes at that time too, ensuring that if there’s, say, 5 sizes overall, all the numbers shown need to have 5 iterations or there’s one for all. If there’s less, I usually add “XXX” in the missing space so I can contact the designer later on, or, perhaps when I get to that point in grading checks, if the pattern is correct so far I can jump the instruction, check the next one and backwards-calculate that missing figure.

Rosheen by Varian Brandon. Photography (c) Louet North America & Caro Sheridan

I tend to work on a side-by-side situation if it’s not a stylesheet I am familiar with. For example, I’ve worked with Knit Now for so many issues now that I know the style by heart and don’t need to compare it. But if it’s a new one, I tend to leave the stylesheet master document open on one side to ensure the words are the way they are meant to be.

As an example: I will always write and edit with lots of line breaks. But imagine I am writing a pattern for Interweave Knits or Knitscene magazine. Their style sheet says they need the instructions to be in one paragraph. I will write TO their wording style, but I will keep MY line breaks while I write, because I see it clearer that way. Once I’m done and before I send it in, I delete the line breaks to commit to their style.

Sinai by Cassie Castillo. Photography (c) Louet North America & Caro Sheridan

I go through all the sizes and compare the final measurements to what I consider acceptable in a human form, as well as their schematic. I have my own master sizing sheet that, for example, tells me a 6.5 inch wrist measurement could be ok if the wrist is a ribbing pattern with lots of stretch. But if it is a colourwork or thick cabling pattern, I will tell the designer it’s not what I’d consider appropriate.

My representative or contact within the company is also a good source of information for the actual samples. Usually designers have already sent the company their samples and so this person could reach to it, measure any areas that I am questioning to confirm whether the pattern is correct in those numbers.

Coleen by Mari Chiba. Photography (c) Louet North America & Caro Sheridan

When the edits are done, I email the document to the designer. It’s important for them to know that it is their responsibility to understand the pattern and the changes that have occurred, since they are the ones providing pattern support when the pattern goes live. Once the designer has approved their changes, the company’s representative or editor should also go through the patten in detail. They must also contact the designer if anything is awry and needs fixing.

And when all that’s done and a photographer has taken shots, it goes into layout. Here is the designer’s final chance to say something. The pattern needs to be perfect to 2 standards: the stylesheet to follow and the numbers that the designer has input and I have edited. Only then should the pattern go live or to the printers.

It’s funny to say this, but I don’t think people realize how long and hard a team works behind the scenes in projects like this. For this particular collection, we started work in late February. Pattern proofs rolled to designers by mid-March. Layout proofs were sent by early April, and the last of the changes took effect on late April. During these 7-9 weeks, emails were sent daily to designers, coordinators, etc. It’s a lot of fun but a lot of organization too!

This blog tour has scheduled stops at…

Aug 13: Kathy Owens, guest post on the Louet Blog
Aug 15: Laura Patterson, Fiber Dreams
Aug 18: Mari Chiba, Mari Knits
Aug 20: Rohn Strong, Rohn Strong Designs
Aug 25: Ruth Garcia-Alcantud, Rock+Purl
Aug 27: Varian Brandon, Brandon Knitting Designs
Sept 1: Handmade by Stefanie
Sept 3: Susanna IC, guest post on the Louet Blog


All photos (c) Louet North America & Caro Sheridan