Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Reading... checking.... and more reading

There's been a lot of this

going on for the past couple of weeks. I think it is the last time I'm going to see my manuscript until it is in the actual book form. Luckily the weather was nice and I was able to sit in my little fenced garden and read through all the patterns again. See the kitchen timer there? That's to give me an idea of how long it takes me to do a pattern. The post-its work nicely for corrections - I just have to be sure to write legibly. What you can't see is the little kittens playing at my feet and a hen and a rooster chasing them around. The kittens have just begun going outside and they are treating my overly large hostas as sun and rain umbrellas. So cute.

A knitting book goes through many phases, many of which I know knitters never think about. Mostly knitters gripe about mistakes in the patterns which I realize is totally frustrating. It's not like we authors and the publishers try to make mistakes to frustrate knitters. Sometimes, they just happen.

Just to give you a little insight into what I do to a pattern and then what happens to it after me, here's knitting pattern and book timeline.

1. I swatch and take notes and then write a pattern for a knitter to follow and test-knit.
2. The knitter makes the project, sends it back with notes for changes and mistakes.
3. I tweak the pattern and get it ready for the publisher. I calculate yarn amounts, adjust sizing, and re-check the pattern.
4. I send the entire collection of patterns to my editor at the publisher. For Kristin Knits, there are 27 patterns.
5. The editor sends it to a technical editor. This person is someone who specializes in correcting knitting patterns and making sure everything is okay for the knitter. They also fit the pattern into the publisher's style (every publisher has a different one). A good tech editor is worth their weight in gold.
6. The "tech-edited" patterns go back to the editor at the publisher.
7. A sample layout is designed for all the patterns to fit into. A book designer does this. They are called sample pages.
8. After the layout has been tweaked a few (or a zillion) times, the patterns are dropped into the format. For me, this is a critical time which I have no control over. It makes me kind of crazy to think about and so I try not to. Patterns have to be massaged to fit into the pages given for a particular project. This means words can be cut. I always just hope important words aren't cut so that the pattern is do-able.
9. Finally, the pages come back to me and I get to read them and try to catch any errors, ommissions, etc. I try my best but by this point, I haven't looked at the projects in a very long time and have designed many more since. It almost gets to a blurry, hazy point - almost like trying to remember what I did back in high school or before I had a child. I send the pages back and won't see anything more until I have a finished book in my hands.
10. A copy editor reads everything and tries to make sure everything is perfect.
11. Someone compiles an index.
12. After a few more steps, which I am totally not clear on, the book finally goes to print.

Who was to know it would be so complicated but trust me, it is. As we speak, I am hoping for the best. Hoping for no mistakes. Hoping for beautiful color reproduction. And hoping you and lots of other knitters will like it.


Peggy said...

My handspun, knitted and felted hat goes off to you. I am looking forward to holding the finished product in my hands. What a wonderful place to sit and do anything, I'm truly envious.

Kathy said...

I'm sure it will be gorgeous!

Laurel said...

"Patterns have to be massaged to fit into the pages [...] This means words can be cut."

Do the book designers know anything about knitting or are they just the 'make it pretty/make it fit' people? If the latter, I imagine it would be like someone who doesn't cook designging the layout for a cookbook and cutting an ingredient or a processing step to make the recipe fit.

I don't think it's realistic to expect every published pattern to be error free or to expect a designer to catch an inappropriate edit at the point the material 'comes home' for final review. What I look for above all is a publisher's willingness to make errata available. I've been surprised to find several who do not/will not.

Well, that was quite a little ramble, wasn't it? :-) And, all that aside, I'm really looking forward to your book, too!

Lisa W said...

I'm sure you will be left with a deep sense of satisfaction when this project has been completed. I have an picture in my mind of the kittens sheltered under the hosta leaves. I will carry that image around with me today and will smile every time I look at it. Thanks!

Felicia said...

Wow, its interesting to hear the behind the scenes events that take place to prepare the book. You've done a lot of hard work!

Anonymous said...

Kristen... do you 'dream' new patterns? You say that after the book goes to bed... well kinda... you have created many more patterns... do they just come to you? Do you just sit down and say "today I will create a new pattern? Or is it like my Pastor once told me when I asked him how he came up with the new subject every week (okay I was 14 YO) Ohhhhhhh Ruth there are sooooo many subjects(Patterns) out there ... so that's my question... with all you do ... how do you set aside the time to just create?

Peg-woolinmysoup said...

Thank you for that info on publishing a knitting book - to me it is way more than I thought would happen. I admire your tenacity in keeping on doing it - perhaps there are times when you say to yourself, "Never again!"
Please stick with it, as I love your books. I just finished the little garter stitch cloche in "Knitting For Baby" - clever pattern! I love the photo of the little boy with the 'aran' sweater! That is just priceless.
Thanks for all the work you put into your books. I like your patterns.
Which large hosta do you have - I have two Seboldiana and Sum and Substance! Our two Cairn Terriers can get 'lost' under the leaves of those hostas!

Sile Convery said...

I loved looking at the pics of the different chicks--they look so handsome and so individual. And thank you for the wonderfully clear explanation of the pattern process.

knittingiris said...

I'm catching up on some back posts and am finding all of this so interesting. I look so much more at the names of designers now and I see your name everywhere, it seems.
Somehow I missed last fall's Vogue Knitting including the colorful knee highs you designed but picked up a back issue while I was in Seattle. They're now on my "to do" list, which unfortunately is ridiculously long.