What is test knitting?

A number of people have asked me about test knitting, so I thought I’d try to answer some of the more common questions.

What is test knitting? 

Test knitting usually happens before a pattern is published, designers will ask a few people to knit the pattern to test the instructions.

So testers are checking for mistakes?

Not exactly.  Most designers will have the pattern checked by a technical editor before it is sent to the testers, this is certainly how I work.  The technical editor will have checked that all the numbers work, so you shouldn’t be too worried about mistakes, but won’t have actually made the item – that’s where testers come in.  You’ll check that the pattern can be followed by “real” knitters, fits properly, and uses the amount of yarn that the pattern says.

Why do designers want test knitters?

Different designers have different reasons, but commonly it’s to make sure that the pattern makes sense and is easy to follow, also to have some finished projects to show to potential customers.

What’s in it for the testers?

It varies a lot between designers.  All my testers get a copy of the finished pattern when it’s released, and those that finish on time also get one of my other patterns as a thank you.  I sometimes test knit for other designers and my motivation is firstly that I like to be able to help out my friends and fellow designers, and secondly I like the thrill of getting hold of a pattern early.  A lot of my testers also say that they like to feel that they’re able to have some input – it’s not unheard of for designers to make changes to their designs based on feedback from testers.

So the testers don’t get paid?

By some designers, yes, but not by me, sorry.  A lot of people that test knit do it for fun and don’t want the added pressure that comes from it being a paid job.

What do the testers need to do?

Knit the pattern that’s being tested.  Follow the instructions exactly as they’re written and if you find a bit that doesn’t make sense to you – ask.  As knitters, I’m sure we’ve all knit patterns that weren’t completely clear but it was ok, we had enough experience to have a pretty good idea what was meant. As a tester you can’t do that, you need to draw the designer’s attention to it – if that bit is confusing you, the chances are it will confuse someone else.

Usually there will be a deadline that you need to be able to work to.  For socks or mittens, you may be told you only need to knit one of the pair, unless they’re different in some way, in which case some people may be asked to knit “left” and some “right”.

If the designer is active on Ravelry, you’ll probably be asked to create a project page and post some photos.

Am I allowed to tweak the pattern? I usually prefer to do things “my way”.

Unlikely. Check with the designer, she may not mind certain changes, but usually it’s important to test the pattern as it’s been written.

I’m a new knitter, can I be a tester?

Maybe, it depends on the complexity of the pattern.

I’ve been knitting for a while but I’ve not much experience of the type of item being tested.  Can I be a tester?

Different designers have different answers, but for me – yes absolutely!  While I don’t want all of my testers to be new, I like to have a range of experience to really make sure the instructions work for everyone.

This sounds like something I’d like to do – how do I start?

On Ravelry, there are groups dedicated to testing – The Testing Pool, Free Pattern Testers and Open For Testing.  Join one or all of those and you’ll see that designers advertise for new tests.  Also, a lot of designers have their own groups, so if there’s someone you like, then join their group or follow them on Instagram and watch out for mentions of tests.

If you’d like to test for me, then follow this link and fill in the form, and I’ll add you to my list of people to contact next time I have a test coming up.