Not that Hamlet was a particularly happy play, but hey, that's a great soliloquy.
So which comes first - tech editing, or test knitting? I've seen it done both ways. I do have an opinion, but first let's look at the arguments for each.
Tech editing first:
- Test knitting process is easier on your testers.
- You can feel like your pattern is in pretty good shape earlier. If you tend to stress about people finding mistakes or things going wrong at the last minute, you may want to tech edit first.
- Tech edit *could* be more expensive. (More on this later.)
Test knitting first:
- Tech edit *could* be cheaper. (More on this later.)
- Issues in the pattern could be frustrating for test knitters.
That's nice, but now I'm more confused. Which do you recommend?
Tech edit first. Reliable test knitters are worth their weight in gold. You want them to have a nice, clean pattern. You don't want them to discover hours in that the cast-on number for their size was wrong, and now the pattern repeat doesn't fit. (Yep, it's happened.) I know they work for "free" (we won't open the can of worms on tester compensation today), but they choose to knit for you. Make them want to come back.
Does test knitting first make tech editing cheaper?
Maybe a little? Yes, issues with the pattern do make it take longer to tech edit, but not honestly by that much. Number of pages, number of sizes, number of charts, etc are a much bigger factor in determining how much an edit costs, and you likely won't be cutting out pages or charts based on tester feedback. And if there are major errors (such as if a math error percolates through the rest of the pattern), we stop editing anyway, as there's no sense running up the clock. The biggest unexpected thing that makes your edit take longer? Style (in)consistency, which your testers may or may not comment on.
Can I do tech editing and testing at the same time?
You ... can. But it makes me nervous. There's a reason the expression "one step at a time" exists. And a reason the expression "our paths must have crossed" exists. If you're organized enough and confident enough that you can do both at once and come out at the end with a great pattern, fantastic. If you're not sure, or you know you're not that organized (no shame there, most of us aren't), I'd encourage you to do them sequentially. That said, I know sometimes publishing schedules and deadlines require things to happen more quickly.
I see what you're saying about tech editing first, but I'm worried about putting in tester feedback later that isn't ever checked by a tech editor.
Usually you're going to be making small-ish edits to a pattern based on tester feedback. Most designers I work with don't check them with me. You'll probably know whether or not any changes need to be checked. Some designers do have me check changes after the test knit, and here's the key for this to work: You need to specifically list any new changes. This lets me skip right to the relevant parts of the pattern, instead of having to go re-read everything (expensive).