Your inspiration is now a reality and you are ready to send it out into the world for test knitters to knit. The pattern is formatted, the images are beautiful and it looks great! But... your test knitters are finding mistakes. And inconsistencies. Oh no! As soon as you fix one, another is found, and another... And everyone is getting confused as to which updated version they are suppose to be working from. Nightmare! What do you do?
Hire a technical editor. (Before you test knit!)
But what do you need to do to get your pattern ready for technical editing?
Designing your own personal style sheet is a great start. This serves as a reference to help you remember how you "say" something in your patterns. It helps customers recognize your style and your "brand." An example of this is how you abbreviate, or choose not to abbreviate common words in patterns. "Inches" is one. Do you keep it formal and always write out the full word? Or do you use the "in" or the ' " ' marks by your measurement?
Another example is charts. Do you use them and exclude the line-by-line written instructions, or do you provide both for your knitting clients? Or skip charts altogether? The choice is yours, but the main thing to remember is that CONSISTENCY is crucial.
Style sheets are great to have, but if you'd rather not bother with creating one, a tech editor can still help you. We go over all your math, phrasing, spelling, punctuation, charts, abbreviations, schematics and so on, with the goal of making your pattern as error free as possible. What you can do to save yourself time and editing costs, is make sure your pattern is in as close to the final version as possible. Sure, you could still have the snapshots instead of the glamor shots in the version you hand to a tech editor; we want to see that your sample matches the instructions that you wrote to create it. Glamor shots can easily be added at your leisure after the editing process.
Something I do as a designer (yes, I design too! Visit me at https://nindesigns.blogspot.ca to check out my work.) is take a break from a pattern when I'm "finished," set it aside for a few days and come back to it with fresh eyes. You won't believe all the little errors that will jump out at you!
Another trick is to read your pattern backwards. Yup. Backwards. Start at the end of a sentence and read each word to the start of it. It is a great way to catch those pesky spelling mistakes and crazy punctuation we add when we are on a designing roll.
And then there is always having a knitting friend go over it with a critical eye. This is my least favorite way of looking for mistakes. Why? The problem is that person's personal preferences and knitting experience. They may know that "CO x stitches and join in the round" means to cast-on x stitches and join in the round being careful not to twist the cast-on row. A new knitter might not understand what "CO" means if you don't have an abbreviations key provided in the pattern and they probably will not be looking out for twisting the cast-on row by mistake. That leads to knitter frustration and (yikes!) a bad pattern review. Not a great way to stimulate sales.
Take some time to look at patterns from your favorite designers. Really look at the way the pattern is formatted on the page, what tools and information they give the knitter so they can reproduce the knit item in the photos, and how they "say" the pattern. Consider emulating bones of that structure while putting your pattern down on paper. Why? Chances are if they are a well received designer, their patterns are tech edited for clarity, which means they are easy to follow, with no grammatical mistakes and a joy to read.