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The next steps in the pattern creation process are grading and then testing/tech editing.

On the Subject of Grading

Some patterns, like shawls, only need to be written in one size. For others, they must be written up in various sizes- a process known as grading. There are various online classes to teach how to grade knit and crochet wear. I’ve taken one with Dora Ohrenstein and one with Alexandra Virgiel over at Shannon Oakey’s site. If you want to learn how to grade, I recommend taking as many of those online classes as possible. Each teacher teaches differently, and you’ll gain more insight into both grading and garment design as a whole.

So where does grading fit in to the pattern writing process? Many times, I prefer to work out the pattern for the sample size, make the sample, and then grade it. If I were to do all the work of grading ahead of time, then any small change I made during the sample construction would result in having to redo a lot of work. As I work out the sample, I keep in mind how each of my choices will affect the other sizes.

Sometimes though, it’s prudent to do the grading first. I’m working on a child’s sweater right now for the Poetry in Yarn pattern line. In this case, I am doing all the grading first. The stitch pattern repeats are fairly large, and I don’t want to work up the sample with, say, 2.5 inches of ease, only to discover afterward that it’s impossible to get anywhere near that with 2 of the other sizes I need to write the pattern for.

Test Knitting and Tech Editing

This is the area of pattern design that I think causes the most confusion to people (both beginning designers and consumers). So first let me explain exactly what test knitting and technical editing are:

Most people are at least vaguely familiar with the idea of test knitting. You send your pattern to a tester, who makes up a sample and checks the pattern for errors as they go. I do not frequently use testers. In the past, I’ve had really mixed results. One tester was fantastic, the others gave me little feedback and missed errors in the pattern (that I later found).

A technical editor is like a test knitter except they check everything, for every single size, without (usually) having to pick up yarn and a crochet hook. Impressive, no? On top of that, a good tech editor is familiar with industry standards and can point out parts of your pattern, that while not wrong, may cause the knitter or crocheter additional confusion. They also insure consistency in your pattern. A good tech editor is worth his/her weight in gold. I will NEVER EVER EVER put a pattern out in my pattern line that has not been tech edited. EVER.

(I would like to say here that every major magazine out there uses tech editors, not testers. It’s just not realistic to have 5 people testing a pattern when you’re working on a deadline.)

(I would also like to add that working with a tech editor is like a crash course in pattern writing. You get nearly immediate, direct feedback. With work I do for others, it may be over a year before the tech edited version is out. I can still learn from what they changed, but it’s easier to learn when the material is fresh in my mind and I’m able to directly ask the tech editor questions.)

(I would also also like to add that, if you want to spend the money, most tech editors can grade your pattern for you.)

So, um, yeah….tomorrow I’ll cover what happens after my happy, graded pattern has come back from the tech editor.