Technical Editing Insights: Time to Edit

Wednesday, November 30, 2011
One of the common things I'm asked by new clients is how much time I think it will take to edit their pattern(s).  This is a really hard thing to estimate, because the amount of time any given pattern depends on several factors:
  • Clarity & consistency of writing
  • Number of errors (The more errors you have, the longer it takes)
  • Amount of math to be checked (shaped garments need more time)
  • Complexity of the stitches (fully lace shawls take a LONG TIME because every row of the chart has to be checked against every row of the written instructions)
  • Internal consistency & consistency with "knitting normal"
Out of curiosity I decided to go back into my last 60 patterns edited to see what sorts of things I tend to edit and how long they take.  Here's a breakdown by type:

You can see here that, unsurprisingly, the average amount of time it takes to edit something increases as shaping and stitch patterns increase.  Things like hats and scarfs are pretty simple and take not much time, while shawls and tops (either for children or adults) require me to haul out my calculator and do arithmetic.

But this doesn't tell the whole story.  Here are the breakdowns for time spent on the 17 shawls and 11 adult tops:

As you can see, the shawls have a relatively smooth range in their time to edit, with 9 of the 17 taking less than an hour (5 of these took 36 minutes), and 8 of the 17 taking an hour or more.  Shawls are interesting to edit (and knit) because, while their shaping is usually pretty simple (short-row ones notwithstanding), their stitches are often very complex.  Included in this count are stockinette-plus-lace-border as well as true-lace-patterning-on-both-sides-all-the-way-through ones.  The latter take a lot longer.

Adult tops, on the other hand, are mostly clustered somewhere in the 1-2 hour range, with two obvious outliers at under an hour and nearly 5 hours.  That 5 hour one was for a new designer with an unusual construction and several different lace stitches; the 45 minute one was an extremely simple tee with minimal shaping.  To be even more precise, of the 11 that I did in the last six months, 6 took 84-96 minutes total.

So what should I be telling clients about how long their edits will take?  I suppose I can use these stats to give an average amount of time by type of garment, but even then there are going to be outliers one way or the other.  Also keep in mind that not all of my clients receive their invoices online (this only counts PayPal invoices), and I'm not done with a bunch of ones that just came in this week, so the methodology isn't perfect (but when is it?).


  • affiknity

    What an interesting post. It is kind of obvious that shaped garments will need more tech editing, but having the numbers on a graph gives it more clarity.

    It would also be interesting to see what common errors patterns tend to have. This means one has to keep an account of all tiny and major errors one tech edits, which is a pain.

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