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Pattern testers or a Technical Editor?: Who you need at what stage of the pattern design process.

Updated: Apr 29, 2023

Many people after designing a pattern, head straight to their list of pattern testers and skip the technical editing process. However, pattern testers a have very different approach and skillset to a trained Technical Editor. I'll describe what both a tester and Tech Editor can do for you.

Pattern testers and technical editors are both important roles in the world of pattern design, but they have different responsibilities and skill sets. Pattern testers are responsible for testing a pattern to ensure it is accurate and easy to follow, while technical editors focus on reviewing and improving the pattern instructions, ensuring that they are clear and easy to understand.

Pattern testers are typically individuals who are skilled in sewing, knitting, or crochet, and are familiar with the techniques and terminology used in these crafts. They are often volunteers who offer their time and expertise to help designers improve their patterns. There are issues around fair reimbursement for their skilled labour, however, many testers are simply happy to get a preview pattern for free. Pattern testers receive a draft of the pattern from the designer and follow the instructions step-by-step, providing feedback on any errors, inconsistencies, or areas of confusion they encounter. Using testers means the crochet item can be made in more sizes to fit many more body shapes than a single designer could ever manage.

Pattern testers are essential to the pattern design process, as they provide valuable feedback on the usability and accuracy of the pattern. They are also able to identify areas where additional instruction or clarification is needed, and can suggest improvements to the pattern design. Pattern testers may also provide feedback on the fit and sizing of the finished product, helping the designer to ensure that the pattern is suitable for a range of body types and sizes.

Technical editors, on the other hand, are professionals who specialize in reviewing and improving written instructions. They are often trained in copyediting and have a strong understanding of the rules of grammar and punctuation. Technical editors work closely with pattern designers to ensure that the pattern instructions are clear, concise, and easy to understand. They may also review the pattern charts, diagrams, and illustrations to ensure that they are accurate and easy to read.

A Tech Editor is essentially your quality assurance (QA) process.

After designs have been being swilling round in your brain and then transcribed into a pattern via some yarn swatches, it's easy for mistakes to creep in. Your brain and eyes read what they think is there, not what is actually written. A Tech Editor can see your design with a fresh pair of eyes highlight inconsistencies and errors to be fixed.

Technical Editors are particularly valuable when it comes to complex patterns or patterns with multiple variations, as they are able to identify inconsistencies or errors that may be missed by a pattern tester. They also have a keen eye for detail and are able to spot errors in formatting or layout that may affect the readability of the pattern.

In summary, while pattern testers and Technical Editors both play important roles in the pattern design process, they have different areas of expertise and responsibilities. Pattern testers are skilled crafters who provide feedback on the accuracy and usability of the pattern, while Technical Editors specialize in reviewing and improving written instructions to ensure that they are clear, concise, and easy to understand. Both roles are critical to producing high-quality patterns that are enjoyable to use and produce beautiful results.

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