I’ve been thinking a lot about test knitters lately. In particular, I’ve been puzzling over what makes for a good test
knit experience and what can sour the experience. I’ve shared some of my thoughts here, but I can only speak to things from the designer’s perspective.
So I decided to call in the professionals.
See, I’ve got this crew of test knitters. They’re loyal, repeat testers who show up time and again for several designers (including yours truly). Their work is polished and always finished on time.
And if I can’t give you the test knitter’s perspective on all this, well, they sure can!
In this part one of a two-part series, we’ll be talking about why they got into test knitting and what they look for in a test knit. Some of the answers might be what you’d expect, but some might just surprise you.
But first, a brief introduction.
Who Are These Test Knitters?
- Theresa Govias
- Kimberly Phul
- Beth Waetjen
- Karen prefers to fly under the radar and has a private Instagram account
- Cindi Surovi
- Arianna Frasca (Arianna also blogs about knitting and interior design over on her own site, here, and you can find her knitting patterns here)
- Sandra Mussons (Sandra’s first knitting pattern is available on Ravelry here)
- Steph Atkins
- Beth Kirkpatrick (Beth’s designs are also available on Ravelry here)
Why Did They Become Test Knitters?
I started knitting in fall of 2017. I started really because of FOMO. 😄 But also because I didn’t have much of a budget for patterns at the time. I saw test calls coming out but was not sure I had the skills yet to contribute at a high enough level. Then I decided what the heck! And applied for a test and was selected. It turned out to be so much fun getting to communicate directly with the designer and other knitters, that I was immediately addicted.
I started test knitting back in 2018 when I decided to start posting more about my knitting ventures on my personal Instagram. In 2019, I really picked up more when I created my i.knit.you.knot account and had more of a work/life balance that could ensure I can finish a project in enough time.
I started test knitting in 2019, approximately around February. I had never test knit before, let alone knit a sock. I took a chance on signing up for a sock test knit as I had just bought myself two very large cones of sock yarn. I got picked and jumped into it. Figured out how to knit a sock by following pattern directions. (Might have helped that the pattern I was testing was written by a tech editor…)
I started test knitting in early 2019. I had just picked up knitting again after learning the basics as a teen. I knew how to knit and purl – that’s about it. I chose to test knit as a way to learn more and grow my skills as a knitter. I am an English teacher in my day job, so proofreading and improving written documents for usability seemed so natural.
I started testing at the beginning of 2019. A designer I liked posted that she had a sock test up on Yarn Pond, so I created an account. I discovered so many fun testing calls! At the beginning, I tested pretty much anything so long as it was interesting looking. Yarn Pond came along at just the right time for me—my job was going through a merger & really slow, so testing gave me things to accomplish while letting me learn new skills. This continued through the pandemic. Now, I’m starting to be quite selective—I’m doing this so I can work through all my WIPs & put more knitted toy stock in my shop since people are starting to buy again. Now, it has to be a designer I know or have wanted to test for, an interesting project, a good timeline, and a good reward.
I’m pretty new to testing and started just about 2 1/2 years ago. I thought it would be fun to try out new patterns, explore new yarns and dyers and possibly stretch my skills. Also I love working with a deadline.
I started in December 2018 when I was visiting my mom at the hospital in Rome, Italy. I needed to knit because it always helped me unplug and calm down, but I also wanted to help when I felt useless (about my mom’s sickness). I discovered groups of test knitters on Ravelry. I have been addicted to ever since.
I started in 2020, in August, during the pandemic. It was something I used to hear a lot about it in different podcasts, and I thought, “I want to do it”. Then I realized that this is an important part of the design process and wanted get involved in it, help designers and be a part of a bigger community.
I finished my first test knit in January of 2019. I had completed a few knitting projects the previous year, but being on a work break, I was looking for a quick make using commercially produced yarns. This was a gateway project that made me realize I prefer finding mistakes in patterns that I did not have to pay for.
I started 2 years ago as a way to meet knitters and gauge if I wanted to actually design patterns (no pun intended).
What Do They Look For In A Test Knitting Experience?
I first look for designs that I actually want to knit and will wear. But also testing style plays into it. I love tests that have an IG chat group. A couple of tests I did without that aspect really lacked a sense of collaboration and community that is so enjoyable. (Even though I tend to be one of the quieter members of chat groups!)
I look a lot for finished pieces that are unique or use a technique I haven’t mastered. I love learning new tricks and seeing other things I do know how to do used in a different way I haven’t done before. I also like to be able to reach out to the designer in a quick and easy manner, or speak with other knitters. We’re all working together so I like the camaraderie that goes with it. Plus if the designer isn’t available to answer a question, one of the other knitters can usually help out. Also, videos for tricky techniques are extremely helpful.
I typically look at whether or not I have the yarn unless it’s a pattern I absolutely have to make. We all have those makes where we cannot resist the pattern. I also look at size measurements if it’s a worn garment like a top etc. I have a larger bust size and there are still plenty of designers out there that don’t take larger sizes into consideration. Then lastly I look at the timeframe the designer expects the finished product. I have two very small children so I have to expect delays in my tests and if the timeframe isn’t long enough then I have to pass it on to the next tester.
I look for interesting design elements – something that stands out. Recently, I’ve also decided that anything I test must fit my intended wardrobe or be for someone. I’m always looking to learn something new.
I check the designer’s rating of course. I don’t mind testing for designers first starting out, so the rating is only one of the factors. I look at their published projects on both YP & Ravelry. I look to see if there are any rewards – typically, I like the finished pattern & one from their shop. Discounted patterns & exposure aren’t my thing. Honestly, their tone is the biggest factor for me. You can hear it as you read the listing. Clear expectations are awesome, but I keep an eye out for ‘a difficult tone’ because I’m not giving them my time. I do like when designers say how often they check the chat. That way, I know when & what method to best contact them.
The item has to be something that appeals to me. Also a reasonable timeline. I also like yarns suggestions that use interesting fibers and /or independent dyers.
I love to help others, so I’m always testing knit, mostly for designers I admire. Sometimes in some projects which I would love to help to see the light. I look for the timeline and the complexity of the project, but often, is just love at the first sign!
I love to collaborate, share things about the project and things of life with other testers, and help, if I can, when other tester needs it. It is a kind of knitting along, with people of many countries around the world, very funny and full of joy. I also get hours of happy knitting and a beautiful object.
My primary concern is to ensure I will enjoy wearing the test knit or have an intended recipient for the test knit. I enjoy working with known designers who use a tech editor before sending the pattern to their test knitters. I look for projects that work well with yarn I have in my stash. I look for a timeline that works for my size and with my schedule.
Organized and kind designer who can manage the testers, even when they get chatty/off topic. I prefer discussions and questions in IG chat. Won’t do tests that are held on yarnpond, won’t test for designers who do not host a discussion and won’t test for designers who are non responsive.
Stay tuned for part two of this interview series, coming next week! We’ll be covering the red flags that scare away good testers, ways for designers to be more supportive, and miscellaneous thoughts from our testers.