Seven Simple Suggestions for Becoming an Exceptional Test Knitter

As I’ve written before, test knitting for other designers is a lot of fun. It’s a great way to help them out, it makes the overall fibre community better, and it’s often an opportunity to learn a new technique. Before I started designing on my own, I did multiple test knits for others in order to really “get” what it’s like from behind the scenes.

Now that I’ve run several test knits of my own, and I’ve done more tests for other designers along the way, I’d like to share with you some of the characteristics that I think take a test knitter from “okay” to “exceptional”.

  1. Read and understand the requirements. If the designer has a list of requirements or expectations, that’s great. If not, make sure you read the call for test knitters thoroughly, and that you can meet the requirements before you commit.
  2. Read through the entire pattern, including any notes, tips or tricks. Don’t assume that just because you consider yourself an experienced knitter, you know how the designer would do something. They may be introducing a new approach to a familiar technique, and want to make sure that those instructions are understandable.
  3. Do NOT make changes to the pattern without clearing it with the designer first. They may have a sound reason for doing something a certain way. If they specify a particular cast-on or other technique, follow their instructions.
  4. Give valuable feedback. While it’s nice to hear “beautiful pattern!” from your testers, it’s not really helpful to make the pattern the best it can be. Statements like, “I think technique a, b, c, would be easier to understand if you wrote it like x, y, z” or “this sentence is a little awkward or confusing” are much more useful to the designer.
  5. Know what is improvement and what is preference. Be able to discern what changes are truly an enhancement of the pattern, and which ones are merely a matter of personal choice. For instance, pointing out a font that is too small or difficult to read is different than simply not liking a font.
  6. Stay in communication with the designer during testing. We all know that sometimes unexpected things come up. Life happens. If you find that you’re not going to be able to complete the test by the deadline, let the designer know as soon as you can. Don’t wait until the day before the deadline. If it’s early enough, the designer may be able to find another tester. Later in the game, they may opt to adjust their timeline.
  7. Link your project page promptly. Obviously, this only applies to designers who are selling on Ravelry, but I think the vast majority in the industry do, even if they also sell elsewhere. One of the biggest reasons for test knitting (in addition to finding errors) is to have several projects to show what the pattern looks like in different yarns, knit by different people, perhaps even in different sizes. You can help the designer generate interest in the pattern right after release if you link your project as soon as the pattern goes live.

*Bonus!* If you’re anywhere on social media, post WIP pics, FO pics, and let people know when the pattern is released–that designer will always want to give you first dibs on their next test!

If you’d like to join the Sleepy Dragon Workshop Horde of test knitting dragons, head on over to Slack and become part of the team!

Do you have any other tips for being a great test knitter? Add them in the comments!

Until next time,

Mama Dragon

4 thoughts on “Seven Simple Suggestions for Becoming an Exceptional Test Knitter

  1. Awesome tips Karen, thank you! I’ll certainly be sharing this ❤️
    One note, sharing photos is *almost* always awesome. Just double check with the designer – once in a while test knits are secret 😊


  2. Completely agree with all of these points – until I had run a few of my own test knits I hadn’t considered that “beautiful pattern” does not equate to helpful feedback!


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