Monday, March 03, 2014

Miniature Entry: On Pattern Writing

When you design knitting patterns for multiple clients, part of the deal is sending in your finished patterns using each client's house style.

This can become confusing when three patterns for three clients all reach the finish line simultaneously.

One client insists that "inches" always be written out in full; one insists you must always use the double apostrophe (non-curly!) and never the word; the third will only accept the abbreviation "in" (no period!).

You pause in your writing, and remember a very nice student asking, "Why don't we have one standard for knitting patterns? Don't you think that would be a good idea?" and you laugh quietly and reach for the rum bottle.

20 comments:

Susan Baker said...

As a proofreader, I can tell you that this is one of the hardest parts of my job. Each department, client, medium, or even person has individual needs or wants, and having to cater to them - especially when you know half of what they insist on doesn't make sense - is a real pain in the rear. I feel your pain.

FiberQat said...

This! ::passes the rum bottle::

ignia said...

I can almost feel your pain! I am neither an author, no proofreader - I am a tech writer (documentation, manuals etc.). I'd leave you a little advice if I may. If your text editing software allows you might make different templates complete with document styles and the abbreviation rules (think auto-replacement) for your most frequent clients.
(Also I am not a native English speaker, sorry for any mistakes!)
Olga.

Anonymous said...

Don't get me started on how it all reads at the consumer end. I regularly have to decode between US, UK and every tribal affiliation between in order to understand a knitting pattern from an acclaimed international designer.

Actually, I find it is the designers who are often the nicest, most accommodating of the lot.

Liz said...

Inches? what are these things of which you speak? Oh, yes, those things a chunk of the world had to re-learn about when international knitting patterns became available!

Deborah said...

Well, how about you just put them all into centimetres (cm, no period!), Franklin? Ever so much more precise and verging on the universal!
Please don't kill me. If you do, really my own fault-- I know the voice of a writer at the edge.
Or, if we're being totally honest, maybe I'm asking for it because I've been editing student papers and am thisclose to jumping out of a window... I swear, these kidlets (college students at a rather good school) would spell "inches" "intches" and tell you that they're entitled to do so.
Pass the rum.

Linda said...

I can always count on insights into the working world of a creative person when I read your blog. Thank you for so many years of snaps of you at work, on the El, on cruise ships, in the UK, and so forth. May the rum be smooth...

Lune said...

Now you know what a translator's everyday life looks like ☺ Reaching for the bottle of rum definitely is a good idea !

Judy11 said...

And the knitters usually (or most of us at least) don't mind which form the pattern is written in, as long as it is consistent throughout. Oh the hoops you have to jump through for our knitting pleasure. Thank you for pressing on!! And enjoy that 'rum'!!

Matt Waldrop said...

I've been thinking about this a lot myself lately. After a recent comment you made about tech editors, I started looking into what it would take to tech edit professionally. Turns out I have the requisite skill set and have apprenticed myself to a working tech editor. She's in the process of developing her own line and is considering how she wants to develop her own such styles. She'd asked me to give it some thought, and I'd be delighted to share since it overlaps your conundrum.

My thought is for the designer to write everything in their own standard style for which they have a written record. That record can be in any format, but it must be comprehensive. Prior to submission, the designer compares the recipient's style to their own using search-and-replace as necessary to substitute the appropriate standard. This presupposes that the designer's using a word processor with a reliable search and replace function, but Word, Pages, and LibreOffice all do. Others would know more about other platforms than I do.

This works well for abbreviations, but it's much less friendly toward semantic variations of phrasing, but it could certainly help with some.

I like the idea that ignia mentioned about somehow working it into the software's style settings, but I don't know that I've seen that feature in my own software. If it's there, I need to find that immediately.

Matt Waldrop said...

To add to my prior comment (sorry)...

Part of the idea is that you retain a copy of your original pattern written in your own style. When you have questions, you can read it as you would say it.

Beneficial?

Pretty Knitty said...

May I pour you another? Assuming that you have finished by now, you need to celebrate that three-headed puppy!

Julia said...

I was thinking "isn't this what they pay proofreaders/copy editors for?" But maybe copyediting patterns is not in the budget at knitting pubs?

For people mulling technological solutions, know that somebody already rode that train to its most logical and geeky conclusion: http://www.knitml.com/

(My nerd heart leaps with joy, the rest of me knows a lost cause when I see one)

As is so often the case, I fear that the stickiest problems lie in the social, rather than technical, realm.

krisluvswool said...

My college students always wonder why it is that we insist on making them check/double-check their citation formatting for research papers. Now I have another example of why this is important, even if you're not going to write history books!

Anonymous said...

I know that with some software platforms, certain characters do not translate well from MS Word. For example, the character representing degrees in a temperature will not work well at the client end when the client prints.

Dana S. Whitney said...

Since I adore spreadsheets... I'd make a sheet with columns such as abbreviate/spell out, cm or in, margins (and whatever) and then label the rows according to your customers' preferences.

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