Working with designers and knitters of all skill levels, I’ve come to find that there seems to be a lot of confusion about what exactly a Tech Editor does, what test knitters are expected to do, why they can be helpful and who to choose. Sometimes even the differences between the two can seem blurred. Tech Editors and Test Knitters are expected to do completely different jobs and, although not all designs need both, the input from each can be invaluable.
In the process of designing a knitting pattern, it is highly suggested that designers seek out the help of a qualified Technical Editor (TE). This person will not only copy edit and seek out spelling mistakes, but a TE should always double check every single number – stitch counts, row counts, measurements – and verify that the pattern will, in fact, make the thing it says it’ll make. This includes checking the math on every stitch calculation, confirming the gauge and that the stated stitch counts correlate with the measurements given in the schematic. Tech Editors should compare the pattern draft to a style sheet or previously published patterns to maintain consistency between wording and format and should also have a grasp on industry standards. Tech Editors can sometimes assist with schematic and chart creation, perhaps even grading for pieces that come in multiple sizes.
Test knitters, on the other hand, will knit up a sample of the garment or accessory using the pattern. Good test knitters will knit the thing exactly as written and not make their own alterations so that the designer can get good feedback on the clarity and construction of the piece. Test knitters can help a designer with confusing wording or to check that all sizes meet the expected measurements, yarn quantities, etc. One of the major benefits of having test knitters for a design is that once it’s uploaded to Ravelry, testers can link their projects to it and this will give future knitters an even better grasp of what the garment or accessory looks like in various colors, sizes and yarn choices.
Both Tech Editors and Test Knitters can be valuable to designers for entirely different reasons. In order to get the most accurate pattern, I recommend using a Tech Editor first, then a few test knitters to use that tech edited pattern to create the thing. If they come across any issues, the TE can revisit the pattern and get everything corrected before it’s published for the masses.
(Are you looking for a Tech Editor for upcoming patterns? Feel free to send me an email (sillylittlelady(at)gmail(dot)com and we can pencil you in!)